DeMar DeRozan was the Bulls‘ MVP last season, considering he sank 55.6% of his shots in the final minute of games while within three points. What drove his higher level of play? The five-time NBA All-Star is crediting the ghost of Michael Jordan for helping him elevate his performances.
Not to mention, DeRozan believes an airball against the Knicks on Oct. 28 helped motivate him as well. It could have been the game-winning shot, but Bulls fans at United Center left the arena feeling disappointed. More importantly, the 13-year veteran felt he let his team down after the loss.
“I airballed,” explained DeRozan on “The Draymond Green Show.” “And I just felt the whole vibe of everything, like, what was that? I felt like I disrespected the aura of what these fans are used to seeing from obviously M.J. hitting game-winners.”
“You live for those moments. And to be in that moment for the first time my fourth or fifth game, and I take that shot, I told myself I would never be in that situation again. To let that same feeling happen for these fans”
“It was that game to where it was like every shot I take in the clutch, I’m going to make it count every single time. You look back at all the moments that I had in that arena, it was more like, ‘Yo, I’m trying to inherit the ghost of Michael shooting his fadeaway shot with the clock running down.’ I carried that to heart after that moment because you felt it from the fans.”
DeMar DeRozan played his best NBA season with Bulls
While averaging 50.4% shooting from the field and 35.2% from 3-point range, DeRozan also averaged 27.9 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game with the Bulls last season. Maybe the ghost of Jordan is true. After all, the forward averaged a career-high 27.9 points per game.
It was the first time he put up at least 27 points per game since his 2016-17 season with the Raptors. Plus, while within five points in the last five minutes of games last season, DeRozan shot 53.5%.
The Bulls finished 46-36 (.561) and ranked sixth overall in the Eastern Conference last season. During the first round of the playoffs, the team lost in five games against the Bucks. In their 114-110 win in Game 2, DeRozan scored a playoff career-high 41 points. They could not overcome injuries to Alex Caruso and Lonzo Ball.
On Mar. 31, in the Bulls’ 135-130 overtime win over the Clippers, the forward scored a season-high 50 points. He was two points shy of tying his career high. For an added bonus, DeRozan led the NBA in scoring in the fourth quarter with 612 points last season. Now that’s clutch.
Check out more articles related to the Bulls or DeMar DeRozan on the main page.