This past season, Chicago Bulls forward DeMar DeRozan finished 10th in MVP voting. If that isn’t a good enough indication of how well the second-team All-NBA selection had, consider that he was one of only 10 players to average at least 27.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 4.0 assists per game last season.
Only one other player in that group cracked the 70-game barrier that DeRozan did and that was the reigning MVP, Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, who still finished with two fewer appearances than the Bulls star.
So it is a bit strange to see DeRozan closer to being ranked 10th at his position than in the top five.
But that is just where he should be, according to Frank Urbina of HoopsHype.
DeMarvelous Not Top-5?
DeRozan made the notion that he was the worst signing of the offseason seem silly in hindsight. Perhaps no one could foresee a breakout coming in his 14th NBA season, at least not to the degree that it did.
But DeRozan – who is a notoriously hard worker – continued to improve his game while under the tutelage of Gregg Popovic for three seasons with the San Antonio Spurs.
He continues to work on his game including a mid-range other stars marvel at.
Urbina makes most of these points.
“After various pundits panned the DeMar DeRozan signing for the Chicago Bulls, the Compton native proved the naysayers wrong by putting up the best campaign of his career at age 32.
DeRozan was 2nd Team All-NBA in 2021-22, a well-deserved honor after he averaged 27.9 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 4.9 assists and helped lead what was a very solid Bulls team back to the playoffs.”
Tale of the Tape
Urbina is very complementary of DeRozan and his impact on the Bulls. And yet, he still has him ranked eighth on his list behind the usual suspects like LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, and Paul George as well as former Bulls cornerstone Jimmy Butler.
There is also ascending superstar Jayson Tatum whom Urbina ranked at the top.
But DeRozan is also ranked behind New Orleans Pelican forward Brandon Ingram who is coming off of a solid season of his own.
Ingram averaged 22.7 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 5.6 assists while helping the Pels get back into the postseason for the first time in his three seasons in New Orleans. Only 12 players accomplished that last season and DeRozan was not on the list.
However, he only failed to qualify by 0.1 rebounds while leading the Bulls to a higher playoff seed.
Not to mention having them in first place in the Eastern Conference through the All-Star break.
New Orleans finished as the ninth seed in the West.
Urbina is again complementary to DeRozan. But there is a rub.
“What’s more, with his presence the Bulls improved by 5.1 points per 100 possessions. Although that sounds hard to believe, in DeRozan’s impressive 13-year career, it was just his second positive swing rating ever – his first since 2011-12.”
All Things Being Equal
There is a strong case for everyone ahead of DeRozan. Most of them have either garnered MVP consideration, won it outright, or at least have a Finals appearance to their name. Ingram has youth on his side and, in theory, room to improve at still just 24 years old.
But he is also a six-year veteran with one All-Star selection to his name.
DeRozan’s track record in situations where his teams were trying to win is a double-edged sword here.
As Urbina points out that this past season was only the second time DeRozan posted a positive net rating.
The last time that he did so was in 2012 with the Toronto Raptors. Interestingly enough, Ingram also has just two seasons with positive net ratings. His last time occurred far more recently, though, coming in the 2021 season.
Ingram’s 2022 net rating was also 3.0 points higher than DeRozan’s.
But DeRozan is no worse than the second-best player on the Bulls while, when fully healthy, CJ McCollum is capable of making the claim for second behind top-option, Zion Williamson, on any given night.