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DeMar DeRozan: 'We Took It Personally' When People Questioned Bulls Roster

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 6, 2022

Chicago Bulls forward DeMar DeRozan (11) smiles as guard Zach LaVine celebrates during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Orlando Magic in Chicago, Monday, Jan. 3, 2022. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

The Chicago Bulls have the best record in the Eastern Conference at 25-10, but there was a time before the season when some were questioning the overall roster fit after adding DeMar DeRozan.

Chicago hasn't forgotten.

"We took it personally," DeRozan said (around the two-minute mark) while appearing on Thursday's episode of ESPN's NBA Today. "We let our game speak for itself. We're not too outspoken, we go out there on the court and we're going to compete with the naysayers and whoever we're playing against."

There is no questioning DeRozan's overall talent as a four-time All-Star and two-time All-NBA selection, but it was a surprise to some when the Bulls acquired the 6'6" California native in a sign-and-trade with the San Antonio Spurs.

After all, he is 32 years old and a wing scorer on an expensive contract coming to a team that already had Zach LaVine and missed the past four postseasons. He seemed to be someone who might be better suited as a veteran addition for a squad that was in the immediate championship window.

This very media outlet even ranked the DeRozan move as the worst free-agent signing of the offseason in part because of his three-year, $85 million deal.

All the Bulls have done is emphatically prove their doubters wrong so far.

The fit between DeRozan and LaVine has been anything but a problem, and the presence of players such as Alex Caruso and Lonzo Ball has helped make up for any defensive concerns. Chicago has navigated injuries and a number of players going into health and safety protocols, but the team continues to roll atop the Eastern Conference.

DeRozan has been a major part of that and is playing better than anyone could have reasonably expected. He's averaging 26.9 points (5.3 more than last season), 5.0 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 0.9 steals per game.

His back-to-back game-winners against the Indiana Pacers and Washington Wizards on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day underscored how clutch he has been as a go-to option for the Bulls when games are hanging in the balance.

Chicago has won eight in a row and could realistically land the No. 1 seed in a conference that features the loaded Brooklyn Nets and defending champion Milwaukee Bucks.

While becoming into a championship winner after one transformative offseason of adding DeRozan, Ball and Caruso may be too much to ask, the Bulls have the look of a contender and are playing with a chip on their shoulders.