DeMar DeRozan Was Already the King of the 4th, but Now He’s the Iso God

The Chicago Bulls began their post-All-Star schedule with a 112-108 victory over the Atlanta Hawks. To no surprise, DeMar DeRozan led the way with 37 points, hitting the go-ahead bucket with 15 seconds left that put Chicago up for good.

DeRozan’s game-winner was the perfect encapsulation of what he’s managed to bring to the Bulls all season. Not only is the All-Star earning a reputation as a late-game assassin, but he’s also one of the NBA’s elite one-on-one scoring threats.

DeMar DeRozan came through in the clutch yet again and continued making NBA history

DeRozan’s heroics are nothing new. The 32-year-old has hit countless big shots for the one-seed Bulls, including game-winning buzzer-beaters on Dec. 31 and Jan. 1. But he’s been dominant in fourth quarters as a whole, earning the title of “King of the Fourth.”

The 13-year veteran is averaging 8.4 points on 55.8% shooting in fourth quarters this season. Only Giannis Antetokounmpo (8.9) and Kyrie Irving (8.6) are averaging more points, although DeRozan has more games and a higher shooting percentage than Irving.

Deebo has been phenomenal nearly every time he’s on the court, but especially over his last eight contests. After his 37-point effort against Atlanta, DeRozan now has eight straight games with 35 or more points on 50.0% shooting or better. The previous NBA record was six, held by Wilt Chamberlain.

Whether it’s early in the game or late, you want DeRozan to have the ball in his hands if you need to hit a shot.

A big reason for DeRozan’s success stems from his iso ability

The NBA has gradually shifted toward constant movement, pick-and-rolls, and catch-and-shoot jumpers. Gone are the days of sizing up a defender one-on-one and making a move, whether it be a drive to the hoop or creating space for a knockdown J.

Well, we should say those are almost gone. Because DeRozan’s game is a throwback to the days of old.

It’s one thing to average 38.4 points on 61.1% shooting in an eight-game span. It’s another to do so without a steady three-point shot, as DeMar has tossed up just 13 threes in his scorching-hot stretch. Instead, DeRozan is utilizing his elite mid-range ability and an iso game that is truly one of the best in the sport.

Zach Harper of The Athletic dove into DeRozan’s one-on-one prowess. The Bulls superstar is scoring 113.3 points per 100 isolation possessions, the most in the NBA. But as Harper notes, this is right in line with what the veteran has been able to do even before arriving in Chicago.

“And as we look at his production of 113.3 points per 100 isolation possessions this season, this is just DeRozan throwing down the same output he had two seasons prior. He’s always been good at it, and he hasn’t finished outside of eighth in any of the previous six seasons. DeRozan is a scoring machine, and he’s a scoring machine in isolation.”

Zach Harper

DeRozan enters Friday averaging 28.3 points, the fifth-most in the NBA. The only player in the top-50 attempting fewer threes per game is Miami Heat center Bam Adebayo. But given his mid-range and iso games, there’s still no stopping him.

DeMar DeRozan deserves serious MVP consideration

What constitutes a worthy MVP candidate? In our mind, it’s an elite player who significantly increases the value of his team. It also helps when said team is one of the best in its respective conferences.

Paging DeMar DeRozan.

DeRozan is everything you look for in an MVP candidate. He’s a top-five scorer who isn’t reliant on threes. He’s consistently cool in the clutch, where he’s currently the only player this season with two buzzer-beater game-winners. In addition, he’s kept the Bulls atop the Eastern Conference despite injuries to Lonzo Ball, Alex Caruso, Patrick Williams, and others.

Yes, superstars like Antetokoumpo and Nikola Jokic are critically important to their club’s success. But so is DeRozan to the Bulls, a franchise that even with Zach LaVine putting up All-Star numbers has failed to reach the playoffs since 2016-17.

For a guy who many critics believed was one of the summer’s worst signings, DeRozan is a legitimate star and a threat to win MVP. If you’re trying to stop him, make sure you have backup.

All statistics courtesy of Basketball Reference.

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