Back in the 2020-2021 season, the Bulls weren’t doing too well.
They had a record of 31-41 and, despite trading for Nikola Vučević mid-season, didn’t make the play-in.
Therefore, over the 2021 off-season, Bulls management decided to make changes.
On Aug. 8, they released Denzel Valentine and Cristiano Felicio and signed Lonzo Ball to a 4-year $80,000,000 deal.
On Aug. 10, they signed Alex Caruso to a 4-year $36,980,000 deal.
However, one of the most significant deals was the bulls trading for DeMar DeRozan on Aug. 11.
The details of this trade were as follows:
-The Spurs get Thaddeus Young, Al-Farouq Aminu, and the Bulls’ “conditional” 1st round pick and 2nd round pick
-The Bulls get DeMar DeRozan
While many Bulls’ fans and analysts didn’t have much connection to those picks or those players, this trade had many skeptics.
The article “Ranking the 10 Worst Signings of 2021 NBA Free Agency” was a significant example of that skepticism.
As the title stated, the author (Zach Buckley) ranked what his “worst” free agency moves on the 2021 off-season. DeRozan was ranked the number one worst out of the 10 listed.
Of course, many fans and analysts didn’t have that extreme a position on the trade. But that didn’t mean many of them weren’t confused or unsure about the success of the trade.
With the 2020-2021 Spurs, DeRozan averaged 21.6 points, 6.9 assists, and 4.2 rebounds on 49.5% from the field. While these numbers were great, many people were skeptical due to him being 31 years old.
Around his age, it’s difficult to judge if a player will get better or regress. Therefore, since those stats were the “worst” he’d ever averaged since he was 26, he seemed to be regressing.
Fortunately, that wasn’t the case.
DeRozan and the Bulls’ Rise
When DeRozan first stepped foot on the court, it was an immediate success.
With the help of Lonzo, Zach LaVine, Vučević, the Bulls started 27-11.
Within those games, DeRozan averaged 26.2 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 4.8 assists, a significant increase from the prior season.
On top of these stats, DeRozan was also making history as the season continued.
DeRozan hit back-to-back buzzer beaters on Dec. 31, 2021, and Jan. 1, 2022, beating Larry Bird’s record back-to-back buzzer beaters from consecutive games on Jan. 27 and 29 1985.
He also set the record for most 35-point or more games shooting 50% or better in 8 straight games.
Essentially, DeRozan played (de)marvelous in the 2021-2022 season and calmed nearly all skeptics of the trade.
DeMar Stays (De)Marvelous
However, due to injuries and lack of depth, the Bulls’ hot start cooled off and ended the season at 46-36.
With that record, the Bulls went from the top seed in the east to seed 6 and facing the defending champions in the Milwaukee Bucks.
Within that series, the Bulls lost 1-4 and the Bucks moved on to the second round.
Despite that quick play-off exist and DeRozan’s less than great performance of 20.8 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 4.8 assists on 41.1% shooting from the field, he was given the benefit of the doubt because it’s “the Bucks”.
Many Bulls fans believed that, if they keep this core and when (not if) the Bulls get healthy they’ll start to make the same or more noise than they did early in the 2021-2022 season. But, in retrospect, the unfortunate events over the course of that season were foreshadowing of what’s to come.
This season, DeRozan still has been great.
He’s averaging 24.9 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 5.1 assists, but the Bulls haven’t had the same success, not even compared to the latter half of last season.
As of April 3, 2023, the bulls are the 10 seed at 38-40 and currently fighting for their play-off lives. Much worse compared to being the 6 seed at 46-36.
Despite that, DeRozan’s numbers haven’t dropped off significantly, demonstrating that, despite the lack of success, DeRozan still is trying to provide his Bulls teammates with a winning season to the best of his ability. His stats may be a little worse, but he continues to be a (de)marvelous player as a Chicago Bull.
Stay tuned for more NBA content, including midseason moves, contract updates, and more pieces about every team.
Featured image courtesy of skysports.com
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