DeMar DeRozan’s Bold MVP Proclamation Might Remind Bulls Fans of Derrick Rose

Chicago Bulls star DeMar DeRozan is hardly playing like a man past his prime. Instead, the 32-year-old is having the best season of his career, exhibiting tremendous midrange scoring prowess and efficiency in isolation sets. But DeRozan didn’t want to simply eclipse personal bests. He came into the 2021-22 NBA campaign believing he was the league MVP.

DeRozan sat down with Bleacher Report’s Taylor Rooks to discuss his feelings on the Bulls and being in the thick of the MVP conversation. The mindset is eerily similar to that of a younger Derrick Rose.

DeMar DeRozan claimed he believed in his MVP status from the start of the season

For most fans and pundits, DeMar DeRozan’s stellar play makes him more of a dark-horse candidate for NBA MVP. Plenty of executives around the league didn’t feel he could excel at this level in Chicago.

Numerous NBA executives and scouts voted the Bulls’ sign-and-trade for DeRozan as the worst move of the offseason in an anonymous poll for ESPN. He quickly set out to prove them wrong and hasn’t slowed down since.

Realistically, that anonymous poll only added fuel to the fire already burning inside DeRozan.

The Compton native told Bleacher Report why he feels he is the MVP of the league. DeRozan also said he has harbored that belief since the start of the 2021-22 season.

“Me the MVP? Yeah, I came into the season thinking I was the MVP. That’s just my mentality. Not in a selfish manner, but just knowing the work that I put in.”

–DeMar DeRozan

While the media questioned DeRozan’s contract and fit with Zach LaVine, the four-time All-Star focused on working with LaVine and the rest of his teammates to change the narrative. His determination has paid big dividends.

DeRozan and LaVine certified their credentials as an elite superstar duo within 24 games. DeRozan also sought to uplift Lonzo Ball as a member of the championship core and form a relationship with rookie Ayo Dosunmu.

Injuries have brought the Bulls back down to Earth. However, at 29-17, Chicago still finds itself as the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference, thanks largely to the addition of DeRozan.

In many ways, DeRozan’s frame of mind makes for an interesting parallel to a Bulls superstar of old.

DeRozan’s proclamation calls to mind Derrick Rose foreshadowing of his 2010-11 NBA MVP season with the Bulls

DeMar DeRozan was likely just being himself and evoking the utmost confidence in his interview with Rooks. But Chicagoans might see the sitdown and harken back to Sept. 27, 2010.

What’s the significance of that date, one might ask? Well, it’s when former Bulls star Derrick Rose announced himself to the world.

The Bulls selected Rose, who grew up in Englewood on the southwest side of Chicago, with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2008 NBA Draft. He went on to win Rookie of the Year, then made his first All-Star team in his sophomore campaign.

Before the 2010-11 season, Rose declared (h/t YouTube) his desire to win the NBA MVP Award.

“The way I look at it, within myself, why not … why can’t I be the MVP of the league? Why can’t I be the best player in the league? I don’t see why … why can’t I do that?”

–Former Bulls star Derrick Rose (2010)

Rose made good on his preseason promise.

The Windy City Assassin became the youngest NBA MVP in league history, averaging 25.0 points, 7.7 assists, and 4.1 rebounds while leading the Bulls to an NBA-best 62 wins. Chicago lost to the “Big 3” Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals, but Rose looked like the NBA’s next all-time great.

Most basketball fans know the rest. Knee injuries devastated D-Rose’s career. He’s experienced a nice rebirth in recent seasons, but his career will always have a “What if?” label attached.

Still, Rose’s foreshadowing reminds Bulls fans of a golden generation. Can DeRozan make good on his own MVP wishes and lift Chicago to new heights?

Will DeRozan help to usher in the Bulls’ most successful era since Rose?

L-R: Chicago Bulls star DeMar DeRozan reacts during a game against the Cleveland Cavaliers and Derrick Rose accepts the 2010-11 NBA MVP Award
DeMar DeRozan (L) and Derrick Rose (R) | Left to Right: Quinn Harris/Getty Images and Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

DeMar DeRozan certainly possesses decent NBA MVP credentials.

The Bulls swingman ranks sixth in scoring average (26.3) and fifth in total points. Most importantly, DeRozan excels in the fourth quarter. According to NBA.com, he leads all players in points in the final period and ranks fourth among all qualifiers in clutch scoring.

However, the reality for DeRozan is that the MVP race is incredibly crowded. He’s going to have a hard time overcoming the likes of Nikola Jokic, Joel Embiid, and Giannis Antetokounmpo.

A more pressing and salient question for Bulls fans is whether DDR, like Derrick Rose, can bring about a new and sustainable era of success in the Windy City.

That certainly pertains to this season. The Bulls have to navigate the next several weeks without Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso, though LaVine’s return to the rotation lessens the burden on DeRozan somewhat. But it’s also about whether DeRozan and his teammates can turn the franchise into a consistent winner for years to come.

For now, the depleted Bulls are trying to stay afloat. In time, however, DeRozan’s MVP mindset might manifest itself in the form of a more successful organization.

Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.

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