Raptors’ Jakob Poeltl Dissects the Evolving Game of Bulls Star DeMar DeRozan

DeMar DeRozan Bulls-Bucks

Getty Chicago Bulls star DeMar DeRozan fires up a shot during a game against the Milwaukee Bucks.

When the Chicago Bulls hit the court for their play-in bout with the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night, there will be more than a playoff opportunity on the line. As a sidebar, bragging rights between a pair of former teammates in DeMar DeRozan and Jakob Poeltl will also be decided in the contest.

The Bulls star and the Raptors big man spent a number of years in the trenches together, both with the True North crew and also as members of the San Antonio Spurs. Of course, a lot has changed since the first time DeRozan and Poeltl wore the same uniform, not the least of which is the former’s all-around game.

“In my experience, the biggest adjustment [DeRozan] made — the improvements he made — was just from a playmaking ability. Because when he was [in Toronto] it was really Kyle Lowry running the show and he was an iso scorer for us… He was still dishing out the ball, but it went to a whole new level when we were in San Antonio,” Poeltl said of DeRozan, via Yahoo! Sports Canada.

“He was handling the ball a lot more in pick-and-rolls and stuff like that… not only for his own shot but trying to create for myself or other teammates. So, I think that’s something that’s really stood out to me when when we played together in San Antonio.”

Raptors’ Jakob Poeltl Talks About How Playing With DeMar DeRozan Helped Him

Asked ahead of Wednesday’s game if being with DeRozan day in and day out benefited his own game, Poeltl made it clear that the experience taught him how to keep on his toes against elite offensive players.

“It definitely helps. I’m not matched up with DeMar too often — obviously, if there’s pick-and-roll situations — but what you learn from playing against guys like that… you just, you gotta stay focused 100% of the time because as soon as you start lacking or make one wrong move, he’ll catch you. He’ll get you a foul or he’ll drive past you, he’ll pull up for for a jump shot,” Poeltl said.

“So, you’ve got to be dialed in at all times.”

DeRozan has a veritable bonanza of arrows in his offensive quiver but, more than anything else, he has made a reputation for himself as the NBA‘s resident mid-range maestro. And he definitely lived up to that billing again this season, flirting with the 50% mark on shot attempts between three and 23 feet away from the hoop.

Poeltl believes that DeRozan’s incredible ability to pump fake defenders has played a big role in that continued efficacy from the floor.

Poeltl Breaks Down DeRozan’s Master Pump Fake

As Poeltl sees it, the combination of DeRozan’s impeccable timing and his ability to make shots that many would consider to be awkward or off-kilter has turned his pump fake into a deadly weapon on the hardwood.

“I think it’s the timing of it. The pump fake is most effective when you get a defender out of position first because then he feels like he needs to catch up with you and then might oversell on on a shot contest or something. So, that’s really how you get people is when you make them
feel like they need to catch up to you and he does a good job with that, with changing up his rhythm,” Poeltl said.

“And then, also, he might pump fake you two or three times. You can stay down and like he’ll still [take] kind of a weird rhythm shot that’s probably not easy for a lot of people, but for him it’s very effective. You might think you’re taking him out of his rhythm because you made him pump fake three times, but he’ll still knock that shot down.”

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