The Chicago Bulls never could have imagined they would get the type of campaign that they did from DeMar DeRozan in his 13th season. But for the player, results such as we saw come from grueling preparation.
It is an experience that forward Patrick Williams has endured this offseason in what DeRozan termed a “summer from hell” ahead of the youngster’s third NBA season.
Williams shared what all DeRozan’s regimen consists of on Bulls broadcaster Stacey King’s “Gimme The Hot Sauce” podcast on June 16. For one thing, he confirmed the 5 a.m. wake-ups to lift.
He also explained what he believes has allowed the five-time All-Star to maintain his edge.
The Importance of Being Regimented
The early mornings received much of the headlines when we first learned that DeRozan planned to invite Williams out to work with him. To his credit, Williams said in his exit interview that he looks to learn from his teammates every chance that he gets.
That has continued into the summer.
“It’s just been fun for me just to be around him…see his regimen, his schedule, his routine. And what got him to be who he is.”
DeRozan’s offseason routine has long been acknowledged as one of the NBA’s more rigorous.
It’s not just about getting up before the sun (Williams notes they have to be out of the house by 3:30 a.m. to beat the L.A. traffic).
“It’s a lot of body weight. It’s a lot of movements that challenge your core. It’s really mental. Everything he does is mental. Even if it’s a lift, if it’s a on-court workout…anything he does is mental. He likes to play mind games. He likes to challenge himself mentally, as I see.”
DeRozan has said that he picked up his habits from the late great Kobe Bryant.
“I got it from Kobe early in my career. His conversations and his preparations and the way he approaches his craft was always given to me in a way of, ‘Take this and apply it to you the best way as it fits.’ But this is how I got to where I got.”
Passing on Knowledge
DeRozan made it a point to share his knowledge acquired through the years. He took rookie Ayo Dosunmu under his wing this season. The roles could be seen reversed at times throughout the regular season with the youngster attempting to calm the veteran following a blown call.
That is the type of connection that appears to be forming with Williams whom he referred to as his “main victim” during his exit interview.
Williams spoke of the intensity with which the two practice.
“We go at it in the workouts. I think that’s another thing that kind of makes him so good. He’s going against different people every summer…He’s been guarded by so many different people in the workouts that in the game it’s second nature to him.”
Williams acknowledged that, if he likes something he picks up from a teammate, he tries to implement (most of) it into his game.
“Just seeing his regimen, seeing his routine, definitely helps me for sure. I don’t have to do this. I don’t have to get up at 5 a.m. But, just making sure that I have a routine, making sure that I stick with it.”
Williams’ goal is to be more consistent. In terms of his aggression, that means knowing how and when to get to his spots and attack.
DeRozan is the epitome of that. The midrange savant is not easily deterred by opposing defenders closing (sometimes to a fault). And his prowess in the fourth quarter of games speaks to his fearlessness.
What Makes DeRozan Great
The easy answer to what makes DeRozan great is consistency. But a deeper look reveals tireless efforts to hone his craft and body to hold up through the rigors of an NBA season and playoff run.
To that end, Williams noted the difference between regular and postseason basketball and how their experiences this season will help going forward.
“We see the difference between the regular season basketball and playoff basketball is totally different. And I think, just coming into training camp, it’ll be a different focus level for us. Because we know we can get there and we know what it takes to get there. We know what it takes to win games.”
A summer with DeRozan will certainly help instill a different mindset in the young forward. Will it ultimately pay off for the Bulls?