Presented by Nationwide Insurance Agent Jeff Vukovich
With Zach LaVine, Torrey Craig and now Nikola Vucevic sidelined, Chicago Bulls coach Billy Donovan has been forced to alter rotation, giving more minutes to younger players and even trying Terry Taylor.
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But one constant has remained and been relied on even more extensively---DeMar DeRozan.
“I don’t know how truthful he is with me all the time when I ask him how he’s feeling,” Donovan said.
Is DeRozan truthful?
“No,” DeRozan said with a smile following Friday’s practice at the Advocate Center. “But that’s just the competitor in me.
“But if there’s something I feel that I can’t do or would take away from the team, I wouldn’t have a problem saying it. If I’m out there, I’m out there to give whatever is asked from me however long I need to be out there.”
DeRozan long has been a high-minutes player, averaging 34.5 per game for his 15-year career. And that experience has made him a master at manipulating the game for extra moments of brief rest.
“Me just knowing when a TV timeout is coming. Me knowing a foul is going to happen at some point. Me understanding if you need to tie your shoe, it’s a lot of little things that go into it. If you’re not in the penalty, you can take a foul,” DeRozan said. “Playing so long, you kind of understand when a stoppage is going to come and take advantage of those moments. When a timeout comes, sit there until that 2 minutes, 30 seconds is up. Just take advantage of the little gaps when you can because you know you want to be out there.”
That’s the thing: DeRozan always wants to be out there. He has consistently ranked in the top-10 for minutes-per-game and currently sits sixth at 36.6 minutes.
But with the Bulls’ run of injuries, DeRozan is averaging 38.7 minutes in December. That includes six games over 40 minutes.
“I’m concerned about that,” Donovan admitted. “I mean, he’s great. I talk to him all the time. But it’s kind of the situation we’ve been in with Torrey out, Vooch out and Zach out. I want to be mindful of that and always talk and communicate with him. He has played a lot of minutes and I probably need to look at that.”
DeRozan said he has added elements to his recovery routine over the years, taking more Epsom Salt baths and incorporating electric stimulation sessions, recovery massages and plenty of stretching.
“A lot of mobility stuff,” DeRozan said. “I talk to trainers and ask them what they think will help with recovery. Understanding what to eat, what not to eat. I’m always curious and asking what will help me recover, what’s beneficial. And I’m always open-minded for it, working with the trainers.”
There’s also the benefit of off days. On a practice day like Friday, the demands were more mental than physical. NBA teams at this stage of the season often use practice days to review film and have walkthroughs and then get up shots individually rather than placing players through physically taxing demands.
“I feel good, better than expected. I’ve always done a great job of trying to take care of myself physically,” DeRozan said. “Even now, just doing extra stuff, a lot of stuff that a lot of people just don’t know or realize that I do after games, on off days. Come in, get treatment, take care of yourself, come back later and do whatever. Sometimes at home do stuff. So just stay on top of it as much as I can.
“I don’t do nothing else. I don’t hang out. Once I go home, I’m home. I rest and I’m off my feet, chilling. I’m with my kids, watching TV or taking a 5-hour nap. So I stay on top of it.”