DeMar DeRozan’s Boxing, Alex Caruso Shooting, Joakim Noah’s Pep Talk, and Other Bulls Bullets

My money would have already been on DeMar DeRozan if an on-court scuffle broke out. But now that I know he boxes!? 

•   The DeMar DeRozan deep dives keep coming from across the NBA media landscape, and rightfully so! The career season DeRozan has strung together at 32 years old is a rare breed. As we continue to watch him master a lost art, he reminds everyone across the NBA what devotion to your craft can do. And, apparently for DeRozan, part of that devotion can be seen in the boxing ring. ESPN’s Kevin Arnovitz recently wrote about DeRozan’s impact on the resurgent Chicago Bulls, and he gave us a great snippet about the 5x All-Star’s ties to the boxing community.

The boxing ring might not look like a chess table, but it’s where DeRozan masters the dark arts that guide his deliberate maneuvers in one-on-one situations — that footwork that enables him to get better every season.

“Boxing translates over to basketball,” he says. “You learn how to get into an opponent’s body, and you learn subtle step movements that create just enough space to get off a shot, or get off a jab. These are the small things you need as you get older.”

•   A quick google search for DeRozan in boxing gloves will surface YouTube clips that date back a handful of years. The minute or so I watched of one video didn’t have my jaw on the floor (though, I’m sure DeRozan could break it), but it was still all I needed to understand where the veteran was coming from. Moving swiftly and precisely, DeRozan went after the focus mitts. I know diddly-squat about the technical side of boxing, but I do know enough to understand that things like timing, footwork, and positioning are almost as important as speed, athleticism, and strength. Seeing DeRozan prioritize this area of his game, especially as he heads further into his 30s, should only make us feel that much better about his ability to age gracefully.

•   As one of the top ISO players in the NBA for years on end, we all know DeRozan needs his time and space to work. With that being the case, the idea of playing high-speed doesn’t necessarily coincide with pulling out DeRozan’s strengths, but it’s something the Bulls were still eager to do with Lonzo Ball and Zach LaVine in the mix. Arnovitz talks plenty about this in his recent piece, and I highly recommend you go read what he has to say (type?). Instead, what I wanted to briefly look at here is whether or not DeRozan had a build-up toward playing a “faster” game. And one quick way we can do that is by peeking at his team’s PACE over the past handful of years.

•   The Bulls’ current PACE (number of possessions per 48 minutes) sits 13th-highest in the league. This would be the highest a DeRozan team has ranked since the 2010-11 season when the Toronto Raptors finished 11th in PACE (DeRozan was in the second season of his career and the team’s second-leading scorer). However, each of DeRozan’s past two Spurs teams finished 14th in PACE after finishing 22nd in his first season with the team. So what could this tell us? Well, much like what we saw with his playmaking, he seemed to earn some experience speeding things up in San Antonio, potentially making this adjustment to play with the Bulls easier.

•   The Athletic’s John Hollinger also went in the weeds on DeRozan’s defiant play, and he shared this absurd stat:

As a result, he’s turning analytics on his head. DeRozan doesn’t get to the rim a lot or shoot many 3s … but his 59.9 percent true shooting on 31.8 percent usage nonetheless puts him in special company.

Only seven other players have a true shooting percentage greater than 59 and a usage rate over 30 in 2021-22, and they represent the league’s inner circle of super-duper stars: Nikola Jokic, Joel Embiid, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Curry, LeBron James, Trae Young and Kevin Durant.

•   He has so many more fun nuggets, so give a peek:

•   Is an Alex Caruso return on the horizon? The positive news keeps coming for the Bulls’ top defender, and NBC Sports Chicago’s K.C. Johnson shared that Caruso could be seen using both hands plenty during another post-practice workout on Wednesday.

•   Caruso also took to Instagram and directed our eyes toward an image of him on the court in Miami.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Alex Caruso (@acfresh21)

•   FWIW: We still sit with no real timeline on when Caruso might return, but Johnson did write in his latest mailbag that he would guess Caruso is “slightly ahead” of Lonzo Ball for a return to the floor. So maybe another week or so?

•   Can I hire Joakim Noah to my personal hype man? Seriously, I wouldn’t be surprised if these girls proceeded to run through a brick wall and beat their opponent by 100 points. Maybe they even saw their vertical improve by like 10 inches off our adrenaline.

•   We’re going to pretend like this video doesn’t exist. Got it?

•   I can’t wait to see what this guy can do.

written by

Elias Schuster is the Lead Chicago Bulls writer at Bleacher Nation. He started with BN full-time in 2019 immediately after graduating from the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign with a degree in Journalism (yes, he started with the Jim Boylen Era). Since joining, Elias has been the driving force behind Bulls and NBA content for both the site and social accounts. You can follow him on Twitter/X @Schuster_Elias.

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