I'm Running Out of Words For DeMar DeRozan (and Other Bulls Bullets)

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I’m Running Out of Words For DeMar DeRozan (and Other Bulls Bullets)

Chicago Bulls

All I did was laugh.

I didn’t jump out of my seat. I didn’t scream. I didn’t pump my fist. All I did was laugh as I watched DeMar DeRozan dribble to the free-throw line, spin, and drain the game-winning bucket over two Atlanta Hawks. Then, I wiped the tears from under my eyes as he capped off the 3-point play at the free-throw line.

The performance marked DeMar DeRozan’s eighth-straight game with 35+ points on 50 percent shooting from the field. It’s this never-before-done stretch that has kept the Bulls at the top of the Eastern Conference with a 39-21 record, and it’s this never-before-done stretch that has justified every ounce of confidence the Bulls have given DeRozan.

Indeed, whether it’s nailing the ice-cold dagger or dishing the dime for the go-ahead score, all DeRozan has done is make the right play at the right time. He’s a 4th quarter maestro and crunch-time scholar. What he’s done to put this team in a position to succeed is MVP-caliber, and if he isn’t near the top of that conversation for you right now, you simply have not been watching.

•   Chris Paul, LeBron James, Draymond Green, Donovan Mitchell, and James Harden immediately took their fingers to social media to react to DeRozan’s dominance. Meanwhile, Ayo Dosunmu sat in front of reporters and put into perspective just how special it has been to watch his teammates cook. Whether it’s the most established NBA talent or the freshest faces, everyone understands what DeRozan has done is borderline beyond belief:

“It’s history. We’re witnessing history,” Dosunmu said after the Bulls 112-108 victory. “What we are witnessing right now is something that people are going to remember for a long time. And it’s one of those things where it’s going to be a record for a pretty long time. He wants to win. He makes the right play all the time.

•   Seriously, I’m running out of words to describe what – as Tristan Thompson referred to him as – the “smooth criminal” is doing. The fact that a 37-point showing on 15-21 shooting feels somewhat normal speaks to how ludicrous DeRozan’s play has been this season. Not only have I become completely comfortable with seeing the ball in his hands, but I don’t want it anywhere else during the final few possessions. I suspect the last time I felt this way was when Derrick Rose steam-rolled his way over big-time opponents during his MVP campaign. In fact, I’ve already started to see a handful of folks begin to make this comparison. I’m not going to entertain that conversation just yet (maybe at the end of the season), but there is no question DeRozan is having the kind of individual impact that we haven’t seen in Chicago in quite some time.

•   LOOK AT THE NAMES ON THIS LIST!

•   AND NOW LOOK AT THE NAMES ON THIS LIST!

•   Zach LaVine looked comfortable in his first game back. While the All-Star reserve showed some signs of rust with a 7-17 performance, he still managed a well-rounded showing with 20 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists. More importantly, he did this without any hobbling or wincing for 36 minutes of action. His stepback looked smooth, his explosiveness looked elite, and his ability to take contact looked normal. We obviously still need to keep an eye on how things hold up, but the old LaVine seems to be on his way back.

•   Thanks to a slew of partnerships and a first-place team, Zach LaVine has done more interviews than ever before. He most recently spoke with Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer about his team’s quick success and (to no surprise) his impending free agency. LaVine has held onto his leverage each time this question has been thrown his way, but he also hasn’t hidden his happiness with the Bulls’ new-look organization. In other words, I think it’s pretty clear the goal for Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley is to hand the 27-year-old the max this summer, and I think it’s almost as equally clear that LaVine’s goal is to sign it. You never know what can happen, but this seems like a marriage built to last.

“They’ve always been very clear and transparent to me on some of the things that’s been going on with the Bulls and the moves that they’ve made. And that means a lot to me as a player and a guy that they trust to build around,” LaVine told Fischer.

•   LaVine has all the right in the world to bash his former front office and head coach, but I commend the guy for taking the high road. Instead, LaVine has been far more subtle about the differences under a new regime, and I think this quote is a good example: “I think everybody’s a lot more locked in, a lot more vocal. Through shootarounds, scripts, after games, guys talk about what we could’ve done better or what we did well and could still do adjustments on. That’s definitely a little bit different. I’d say there is arguably nothing this franchise lacked more before AKME walked through the door than an honest level of accountability. LaVine was one of the only ones to absorb the criticism and become better because of it (hence, why he’s the face of the franchise today).

•   Make sure to read the full conversation with Fischer below. They cover a lot of ground.

•   ICYMI: I think Devon Dotson wants his two-way back …

•   Big shoutout to Mario for helping us get our Blackhawks coverage off the ground. I look forward to following what he does next.



Author: Elias Schuster

Elias Schuster is the Lead Bulls Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @Schuster_Elias.