The Chicago Bulls were universally panned when they signed DeMar DeRozan to a three-year, $85 million contract over the offseason and traded Thaddeus Young and a protected future first round draft pick to the San Antonio Spurs to complete the deal. The common thought was that Chicago massively overpaid the 32-year-old DeRozan, and that his addition didn’t improve the Bulls to much beyond a play-in team in the Eastern Conference.
DeRozan has completely flipped that narrative on its head almost halfway through the season. He’s turning in the best year of his career and he’s moved the Bulls to the top of the Eastern Conference. At this point, it’s fair to wonder if DeRozan — the 42nd highest-paid player in the league — is actually on one of the most team-friendly deals in the league.
DeRozan is playing like a legitimate MVP candidate through the start of his debut season in Chicago. He’s averaging nearly 27 points per game thanks to his deadly midrange shooting and consistent ability to get to the free throw line. DeRozan has also been an assassin in close games all season, leading the NBA in points per game in the fourth quarter.
As the calendar flipped to 2022, DeRozan stamped his astonishing year with ridiculous back-to-back game-winning buzzer-beaters to stun the Washington Wizards and the Indiana Pacers. No player in NBA history has ever done that before.
On New Years Day against the Wizards, the Bulls inbounded the ball to DeRozan down one with about three seconds left. He caught the ball and drove it to the corner, where he pump-faked and then drilled an impossible three-pointer to give Chicago the win.
DeRozan finished with 28 points, nine rebounds, and five assists on 10-of-22 shooting in the win. This would be one of the year’s best buzzer-beaters even without the added context that DeRozan made an equally amazing buzzer-beater against the Indiana Pacers one night earlier.
On New Years Eve, DeRozan bailed out a busted final possession by ripping a one-footed three-pointer to give the Bulls the win.
DeRozan had 28 points and six assists in the win over Indiana.
DeRozan is the first player in NBA history to hit buzzer-beaters on consecutive days
DeMar DeRozan is the first player in NBA history to hit a game-winning buzzer-beater in back-to-back days!
— Basketball Reference (@bball_ref) January 2, 2022
The man has been so clutch late in games all year, and now he has the signature moments to prove it.
DeRozan and Zach LaVine have become one of the most dangerous duos in basketball. DeRozan’s steady hand and cool demeanor in crunch-time has taken a huge burden off LaVine’s plate. Meanwhile, LaVine’s three-point shooting and rim pressure is a perfect complement to DeRozan’s midrange artistry.
This is truly becoming a special season for DeRozan and the Bulls. This is a team that had the worst record in the NBA over the last four seasons entering this year. If the playoffs started today, the Bulls would be the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. None of this would be possible without DeRozan proving just about everyone wrong.