DeMar DeRozan

Bulls' DeMar DeRozan embraces league-leading workload

In era of load management, veteran, throwback player is playing the second-most minutes of career

NBC Universal, Inc.

Presented by Nationwide Insurance Agent Jeff Vukovich

With 65-game minimums now in place for major postseason award eligibility and less minute policing occurring, the NBA is starting its slow turn away from load management.

DeMar DeRozan has been at the other end, waiting all along.

“I love it,” DeRozan said earlier this week after playing over 48 minutes in the Chicago Bulls’ double overtime victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers. “I love the game. As a kid when you’re young, you play until your Momma scream at you and those streetlights come on. Same thing here. You love it. You try to relish in these opportunities.”

From his preferred midrange game to his minutes load, DeRozan long has been a throwback. Still, the fact that a 34-year-old is leading the NBA in minutes per game at 37.8 and ranks second in total minutes---just five behind teammate Coby White at 2,193---is notable. And atypical.

“I respect where he comes from. He’s kind of an old-school mentality. Line up and play. ‘I did it my whole life. I love the game. I want to be out there as much as I can,’” coach Billy Donovan said. “There are things we have to do for him on practice days and shootaround days. But I have great admiration and respect for the mentality he has. I don’t take it for granted.”

Indeed, when it’s said or written how the Bulls value DeRozan so much internally, this is what it means. Beyond his on-court contributions, which featured two All-Star appearances in his first two seasons and averages of 22.7 points and 5.3 assists this season, DeRozan can be relied upon daily.

From his preparation to his personality, he’s as consistent as a metronome.

“What he’s been able to do and how he’s gone about doing it, in every facet, whether it’s communicating with the guys, being the same guy every day. Whatever I need from him, I go to him and communicate and he does whatever you ask him to do,” Donovan said. “I appreciate the workload that he’s had to handle.

“It’s not only the workload for him. It’s also the leadership role. It’s a veteran position where guys look up to him. With a lot of younger players, he’s very willing with his time and energy to give it to them. He never complains about anything. He looks at everything as a challenge. And I respect that.”

Indeed, from welcoming Patrick Williams, Dalen Terry and Coby White to his legendary offseason workouts to Onuralp Bitim becoming overcome with emotion about what DeRozan’s recognition for his breakout NBA game meant to him, DeRozan is at the center of everything. It’s why the Bulls have said they want to re-sign DeRozan this offseason, perhaps before he reaches unrestricted free agency on July 1.

While DeRozan’s scoring and usage rate is down from his sublime first two seasons in Chicago, he has quietly attempted 2.8 3-pointers, the second-most of his 14-year career. His 33.5 percentage from that distance represents his third-best mark.

DeRozan also initially tried to cede some of his late-game responsibilities to Zach LaVine before he succumbed to foot surgery. He now has tried to do the same for White.

The image of White and DeRozan---in full uniform---breaking down White’s 3-point miss at the end of the Bulls’ late loss in Cleveland on Feb. 14 endures.

DeRozan is averaging the second-most minutes of his career and most since he played 38.2 per game for Toronto in 2013-14. That’s a long time ago.

“I prepare for these moments,” DeRozan said. “This is what I train for in the offseason. And I just love hooping.”

And the Bulls love DeRozan hooping for them.

Click here to follow the Bulls Talk Podcast.

Contact Us