DeMar DeRozan named Eastern Conference Player of the Week for second time

DeMar DeRozan averaged 27.8 points, 7.3 assists and 5.3 rebounds over a 4-0 stretch from December 27 to January 2.
by Sam Smith
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DeMar DeRozan was named the Eastern Conference Player fo the Week for the second time this season, averaging 27.8 points, 7.3 assists and 5.3 rebounds in four games from December 27 to January 2.

Sorry, but it's another MJ comparison for DeMar DeRozan.

The Bulls miracle shooter Monday was named Eastern Conference Player of the Week, the second time in the last month that DeRozan received the honor.

Not only for his historic back-to-back, very next day, on the road game-winning buzzer beaters that no one in NBA history has done, but for helping lead the Bulls into first place in the Eastern Conference. The Memphis Grizzlies' Ja Morant won the award for the Western Conference.

In four games from December 27 to January 2, DeRozan averaged 27.8 points, 7.3 assists and 5.3 rebounds as the Bulls were undefeated and increased their wining streak to seven going against Orlando in the United Center Monday.

DeRozan's—and the Bulls'—streak began Dec. 19 against the Los Angeles Lakers in DeRozan's first game back from his COVID absence. DeRozan helped the Bulls complete the season sweep of the Lakers with 38 points, making 16 of 17 free throws. In that seven-game period, DeRozan averaged 28.4 points, 6.3 assists and shot 49 percent overall and 71.4 percent on 3-pointers, both his game-winners from 3-point range for the player known, and sometimes condemned by spread sheet aficionados, for his mid range shooting game.

DeRozan's preference for the non-3-point game is why many of the modern analytics-favored NBA critics condemned the Bulls decision to acquire DeRozan last summer. Few of them have since acknowledged their miscalculation.

And DeRozan isn't even the best volume scorer on the Bulls.

Zach LaVine, seemingly comfortably taking a step back except with his offense, is barely behind DeRozan at sixth in the NBA in scoring at 26.3 points per game. LaVine also has become one of the most efficient scorers in the NBA, shooting 49.9 percent overall and 41.9 percent on 3-pointers. Other than specialists like Eric Gordon and Seth Curry, LaVine has been the most reliable shooter among NBA guards this season.

DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine

The play of the Bulls' dynamic duo has enabled the Bulls to lead the NBA in 3-point percentage at almost 39 percent while third overall in shooting at 47.4 percent.

In addition, the play of DeRozan and LaVine also speaks to the unselfish play of the Bulls, with the two guards known for their scoring combining to average nine assists per game. Both are in the top 10 in assists among wing players averaging more than four assists each, the only team with two such players.

Bulls coach Billy Donovan returned Monday from his Covid absence and admitted he almost suffered an injury watching DeRozan's feats.

"The first one in Indiana I didn't even know if we were going to get a shot up, the one legged because I thought the clock was going to run out," Donovan said. "The second one I fell over the coffee table; I jumped up. I couldn't believe the shot out of the corner. The two shots were really, really, really remarkable. They were really incredible."

DeMar DeRozan gamewinner vs Indiana

Donovan said he was cleared and going to the Washington game, but weather cancelled his flight. He said he barely had any symptoms, common in the team outbreak, other than perhaps a mild cold for a day or two. Donovan also said Tyler Cook's ankle sprain from the Washington game was serious and could keep him out a month. And Javonte Green could be out a week or two with his groin injury. Alex Caruso is close to a return from a foot sprain.

DeRozan was named Eastern Conference Player of the Week Dec. 6 after a 3-0 Bulls week with wins in Manhattan and Brooklyn, averaging 30.3 points, 5.7 rebounds and four assists while shooting 59 percent overall.

DeMar DeRozan fadeaway

Though DeRozan's play has been league MVP caliber all season, he's just starting to gain that national notice with the fabulous winners in Indiana and Washington. Jordan three times won the award at least twice in a month, twice in consecutive weeks in the late 1980s when Jordan was chasing Wilt Chamberlain's scoring records and the Bulls were blooming into a 50-win East contender. No other Bulls player had received the honor twice in a month previously. It also sets up DeRozan with the Bulls place in the standings to be the first Player of the Month recipient since Jimmy Butler in 2014.

DeRozan last month was the first Bulls player since Butler in April 2017 to be honored with the weekly award. Butler received the designation four times, tied with Ben Gordon for fourth-most in franchise history. Derrick Rose and Scottie Pippen were named five times and Jordan 23 times. DeRozan entered health restrictions the day the December award was being announced.

Artis Gilmore in November 1980 was the first Bulls player named for the Player of the Week award. The award was inaugurated the season before in 1979-80. Others in franchise history to receive a weekly such mention were Nate Robinson, Carlos Boozer, Orlando Woolridge and Reggie Theus.

It is the 13th time in DeRozan's career he has been selected as a weekly winner. He was named one when he was with the San Antonio Spurs in 2020 and 10 times during his nine-year tenure with the Toronto Raptors. With Toronto in March 2018, DeRozan collected back to back Player of the Week awards. DeRozan was an All-Star four times with Toronto and twice all-NBA.

He helped lead the Raptors to the Eastern Conference finals in 2016, but after the 2017-18 season he was traded to the Spurs for Kawhi Leonard. The Raptors then went on to win the NBA title in 2019 before Leonard left to sign with the Los Angeles Clippers. DeRozan assumed more of a supporting role with the Spurs.

So when he became a free agent this past summer at 32 coming off the third lowest scoring average in his previous eight seasons as a considered out-of-step midrange shooter, many critics questioned the Bulls acquisition, which technically became a sign-and-trade deal.

The 6-foot-6 DeRozan is having a mid career renaissance with perhaps his best season. His scoring and shooting are the second best of his career and his 3-point shooting the best at 37.3 percent. The 32-year-old only topped 31 percent once before in his 13-year NBA career.

The honors finally are coming as Bulls coach Billy Donovan was named Eastern Conference Coach of the Month for October/ November.

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The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Chicago Bulls. All opinions expressed by Sam Smith are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Chicago Bulls or its Basketball Operations staff, parent company, partners, or sponsors. His sources are not known to the Bulls and he has no special access to information beyond the access and privileges that go along with being an NBA accredited member of the media.

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