The 32-year-old, 4-time All-Star has played a variety of roles during his career, but scoring has been a constant. During the 2016-17 season, DeRozan averaged a career-high 27 points per game, and he isn’t far off that pace now.
Last season, while carrying more facilitator responsibilities, DeRozan averaged 21.6 points per game and 6.9 assists. He was one of only 11 players in the NBA to average 20 points and 6 assists per contest in 2020-21.
While the small forward position is where DeRozan is likely to see most of his minutes, it’s easy to see him running the offense at the point of attack. When it comes to pick-and-roll efficiency, DeRozan ranked No. 1 in the NBA in scoring frequency amongst players who averaged at least 5 pick-and-roll possessions per game. DeRozan has a 51.2% scoring percentage in those situations, which is ahead of James Harden and Kawhi Leonard.
It is pretty easy to see DeRozan running point on occasion, even with Lonzo Ball as the starter. In half-court situations, DeRozan is probably the Bulls’ best facilitator. It’s also easy to see DeRozan slide to the 2-guard if he’s still on the floor when Zach LaVine goes to the bench.
DeRozan at the power forward position might need a bit more of an explanation.
The Bulls’ Offense Needs Layers and Movement
Bulls analyst Stephen Noh believes the Bulls will need to be a bit more creative than simply running a ton of isolation plays for LaVine and DeRozan. Believe it or not, that might consist of DeRozan playing some power forward.
In his latest blog, Noh wrote:
The Bulls do have some great isolation playmakers on their team. LaVine and DeRozan are among the best in the league. But they can probably do better than giving those guys the ball and letting them cook. They have a lot of playmaking and passing up and down their starting lineup, and they will probably be at their best by sharing the ball more.
Noh points out in his blog, head coach Billy Donovan’s affinity for an offensive set called Hawks. Last season, San Antonio Spurs head coach Greg Popovich ran this set, with DeRozan at the 4, and it helped to allow him to either get to his post-up or mid-range spots, or to work as a facilitator from the power forward position.
Steve Jones Jr. broke it down in these two videos:
The 2021-22 Bulls offense should look similar to this, only with deadlier offensive players surrounding DeRozan. Chicago fans should be excited, at least about the offensive potential. Defense? Well, that’s another article.
Hiding DeRozan’s Shooting Deficiencies
The biggest issue with DeRozan’s game on the offensive end is his lack of proficiency from long range. Noh believes the Bulls’ management has taken the right steps to protect him.
Chicago’s ability to surround DeRozan with versatile players, who can succeed off the ball, opens the door for DeRozan to thrive in his element as a primary ball-handler.
When you look at LaVine (.419), Nikola Vucevic (.400), Ball (.378) and Patrick Williams (.391), the Bulls have more than enough shooting around DeRozan in the starting lineup.
Things are in place for Chicago to be one of the highest-scoring teams in the NBA next season.
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