The Compatibility of Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan

DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine

Getty DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine communicating during November 3 game against the Philadelphia 76ers

The raw stat lines are nothing short of spectacularly similar. Zach LaVine is averaging 26.3 points on 19.2 shot attempts (49.5 FG%), 5.3 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game. DeMar DeRozan’s line? 26.7 points on 19.4 shots (49.8 FG%), 5.1 rebounds and 4.2 assists.

Major Parent Trap moment, right?

Well, not quite. Because while their numbers are freakishly aligned, the manner of which they’re getting them differ greatly.


Different Approaches

As he’s been historically, DeRozan is more of a slasher, mid-ranger scorer and free throw machine than LaVine. This year, 25.5% of DeRozan’s points have come from the free throw line, where he attempts 7.7 free throws per game. LaVine is at 15.3%, which isn’t even a bad number all things considered.

LaVine on the other hand is more of a long-range shooter who likes to stretch out defenses. 34.2% of his points have come off the three-point shot. DeRozan’s share from distance? 8.7% of his total output.

Another oddity is how they each play off of others. Both are high-volume shot-creators who needn’t rely on teammates to set them up. Yet, LaVine is far more inclined to work off-the-ball, in large part due to his superior shooting range, being assisted on 40.9% of his made shots this season.

DeRozan is a bit more of a mid-range creator, getting assisted on just 29.1% of his shots. And, in fairness, a significant chunk of that is him getting assisted on 20 of his 21 made three-pointers on the year. Remove that shot, and he’s been assisted on just 23.2% of his two-pointers.

So it’s the Parent Trap meets Twins.

Really, it’s astonishing just how eerily similar their stat lines are given just how differently they play the game.


The Indisputable Fit

Regardless of what their numbers are, what matters is how they fit alongside one another, and so far that fit has been seamless. They each appear to fully accept the presence of their counterpart – which in the NBA is no sure thing, even when players intentionally team up. The duo even embrace getting out of the way to let the other torch opposing defenses.

Chris Flemming, filling in head coach Billy Donovan who is in health and safety protocols, noted as much during a huddle in Chicago’s win over Indiana Sunday.

“We were going out and DeMar said, ‘Listen, stay with Zach. I’ll play off him.’ Those guys are pretty selfless in that respect,” related Fleming. “Both of them were willing to sacrifice for the other. It really seems to work.”

“We’ve been doing it all year. He’s been incredible in the fourth quarter, so it’s been easy for me to almost be like, ‘Get him the ball and get out of the way.’ Because coming up to this point, I haven’t won like this and this has been the best feeling I’ve had of winning. So it’s been real easy for me,” added LaVine.

The LaVine/DeRozan partnership, which was initially met with skepticism, has turned the narrative quite thoroughly, in large part due to the two stars being on the same wavelength. DeRozan had a history of coming up short in the playoffs during his career with the Toronto Raptors, and LaVine has never made the playoffs, which is projected to change, per FanDuel Sportsbook.

Both seem keen on shedding those reputations this season, and as it turns out, going on the same mission means developing a form of hive mind. Neither LaVine nor DeRozan are thinking of numbers or individual accolades. For them, it’s about winning and setting the record straight. With a winning record and what appears to be bright days ahead, they’ve only just gotten started.

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