Nikola Vucevic Takes Credit For Bulls’ Huge Free-Agent Acquisition

Getty Nikola Vucevic

The Chicago Bulls‘ Nikola Vucevic may be out of action while going through COVID-19 protocols, but he wasn’t about to be left out of the team’s Los Angeles celebration. The Bulls completed a Staples Center sweep on Sunday and Monday when they marched into the City of Angels and handed the Los Angeles Clippers and L.A. Lakers losses on their shared home floor.

In the two games, Bulls star DeMar DeRozan averaged a whopping 35 points per game. The L.A. native, who talked about signing with the Lakers in the offseason before the team chose to go after Russell Westbrook, was seemingly on a mission to stick it in the face of his hometown teams. 

DeRozan wound up with the Bulls thanks to a sign-and-trade deal with the San Antonio Spurs. Apparently, Vucevic, who was a college teammate with DeRozan at USC, placed a recruitment call to the former Toronto Raptors and San Antonio Spurs star to convince him to consider the Bulls.

It worked and Vucevic took the time to pat himself on the back for his efforts.

DeRozan has been arguably the best free-agent acquisition in the NBA this season. While he was technically acquired via trade, DeRozan had to be willing to sign his new deal with the understanding he’d be playing for the Bulls.

Through 14 games, DeRozan is averaging 26.9 points per game. While he will never be Kawhi Leonard on the defensive end, DeRozan has not been the complete liability on that end that some would lead you to believe he was going to be when he signed. DeRozan is averaging just under a steal per contest and he is unusually where he needs to be defensively. When you’re delivering the way he has on offense, that’s acceptable.

No other NBA player who is on a new team this year is having a bigger impact on his team’s success.

DeMar DeRozan is Legitimately in the MVP Conversation

As of November 16, DeRozan was third in the NBA scoring with 26.9 points per game. That average is behind only the Golden State Warriors’ Steph Curry and the Brooklyn Nets’ Kevin Durant. The scoring in the most basic form is valuable by itself, but what’s more impressive is when DeRozan is getting his points.

Amongst players who have played in at least 8 games this season, DeRozan is tied for the NBA lead in fourth-quarter scoring with 7.5 points per final period. When you consider the Bulls have won four games this season by 10 points or less, you know how big DeRozan’s late scoring has been for Chicago.

DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine Have Excellent Chemistry

While DeRozan has been strong, Zach LaVine has been almost as good as he was last season. His shooting numbers are a bit down, mostly due to a thumb injury, but he’s still seventh in the league in scoring. The Bulls are the only team in the NBA with two players who rank in the Top 10 in socring.

Neither LaVine nor DeRozan seem to be bothered by the others success. In fact, you can see the two stars have a solid on-court relationship and LaVine is often retweeting pro-DeRozan tweets.

The Bulls still need a power forward, Vucevic to come back strong after COVID-19 and for Coby White to become a factor off the bench, but they are in a good position overall.

Yes, Vucevic’s recruitment pitch was a winner.

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