Behind DeMar DeRozan, Zach LaVine, Nikola Vucevic, and Lonzo Ball, the Chicago Bulls have the top record in the Eastern Conference and are well on their way to making the playoffs for the first time since 2017. DeRozan and LaVine have been the catalysts for the Bulls. Both All-Stars are averaging over 26.0 points and have been dynamic in the fourth quarter.
However, the play of Ball and Vucevic can’t go unmentioned. The former has stabilized the point guard position for the Bulls with his two-way production, while the latter has been a walking double-double. The Bulls certainly have one of the best Big Fours in the NBA and could make some serious noise in the postseason.
Michael Jordan and Derrick Rose are the only two players in Bulls history to win MVP. If it’s up to Ball — which it’s obviously not — DeRozan would join them after this season.
Lonzo Ball on DeMar DeRozan: “He should definitely be MVP this year”
During his first press conference with Bulls reporters after exiting health and safety protocols, Ball said DeRozan should win the 2021-22 MVP Award. The four-time All-Star recently became the first player in NBA history to make buzzer-beating game-winners on consecutive nights and is sixth in the league in points per game.
“DeMar has been a star in this league for a long time, and I think this is probably his best year, to me,” Ball said. “He’s showing everybody that he should definitely be MVP this year. He’s our go-to guy. We always have faith in him when he has the ball in his hands, and as you can see, he comes through for us pretty much every time, and he gives everybody kind of that calm demeanor and helps everybody sail the ship to where it needs to go.”
In a recent ESPN straw poll that surveyed a vast pool of likely MVP voters, DeRozan finished sixth behind Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Nikola Jokic, and Chris Paul. While Curry, Durant, Antetokounmpo, Jokic, and Paul are having tremendous seasons, DeRozan has a better record than every player mentioned except for Curry, whose Golden State Warriors have the best record in the league.
DeMar DeRozan’s statistical impact on Bulls has been incredible
DeRozan is averaging 26.8 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 4.6 assists while shooting 49.5% from the field, 37.3% from beyond the arc, and 87.6% from the free-throw line. The Bulls are 15.7 points per 100 possessions better with DeRozan on the court than off of it — a 96th percentile mark — according to NBC Sports Chicago.
Curry, Antetokounmpo, and Paul have higher plus-minus ratings than DeRozan. However, it’s worth mentioning that the Bulls score at a rate of 115.6 points per 100 possessions with DeRozan on the court — a figure that would rank second among NBA teams. Chicago has also defeated Durant’s Brooklyn Nets and Jokic’s Denver Nuggets twice. DeRozan and Co. have yet to face Paul’s Phoenix Suns or Antetokounmpo’s Milwaukee Bucks. Meanwhile, Curry’s Warriors destroyed the Bulls 119-93 on Nov. 12.
Jordan won five MVPs during his legendary run with the Bulls, while Rose became the youngest MVP in NBA history in 2011. Chicago had the top record in the league in 2010-11, and Rose was the only player to rank top-10 in the league in points and assists. If the Bulls can finish this season with the best record in the East and DeRozan continues to play like a superstar, Ball’s bold statement could come to fruition.
Lonzo Ball loves Deebo
Both DeRozan and Ball were born and raised in California. They have forged a strong bond as teammates, and Ball is having a blast playing with DeRozan.
“That’s my guy. I was happy for him, happy for the team, and I’m just happy to be back,” Ball said. “It was crazy. Those two shots DeMar hit were probably the best shots I’ve ever seen watching TV like that. We got two good wins off those shots, and we got a seven-game win streak.”
It’s a great time to be a Bulls fan right now. Ball is clearly biased, but he firmly believes DeRozan is the MVP. Only time will tell if DeMar joins Jordan and Rose in the Bulls’ history books.