DeMar DeRozan likely will not be competing for an NBA championship this season.
After landing with the Chicago Bulls through a sign-and-trade this offseason, the 12-year veteran will be leading a young group that is looking to snap a four-year playoff drought. But DeRozan is still optimistic about this upcoming season, and he isn't letting outside noise affect him.
"I've been on teams where we were picked to be in the tank, and then we win 50 games and make it to the third seed in the Eastern Conference," DeRozan told reporters. "I've heard it all. You can't indulge in it."
FanDuel Sportsbook set the Bulls' over/under for regular-season wins at 42.5. But those predictions don't hold much weight for DeRozan, because he knows how hard he and his teammates have been working.
"I never try to put too much thought on Vegas or whoever comes up with the odds they come up with because you don’t know how hard we’re working, how bad we want something, how much we are fighting for something," DeRozan said. "It’s bigger than just somebody’s predictions and how we are approaching it."
Along with DeRozan, the Bulls also acquired point guards Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso this offseason. All-Star center Nikola Vucevic will be in his first full season with the team after joining Chicago at last year's trade deadline. Swingman Zach LaVine is coming off his first All-Star season.
Chicago will be without second-year forward Patrick Williams for some time, as he is recovering from a sprained ankle that he suffered during offseason workouts. Starting point guard Coby White is recovering from shoulder surgery that will keep him sidelined until November.
Still, DeRozan believes the Bulls have enough pieces to be more competitive than people expect them to be.
"This is an opportunity for a talented group that has a chip on their shoulders," he said. "You kind of run faster when the dog is chasing behind you. That’s the type of mentality we have to have going out there this season."
The Bulls begin their four-game preseason slate at home Tuesday against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
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