Demar DeRozan
David Zalubowski/AP Photo

Is DeMar DeRozan A True MVP Candidate?

DeMar Derozan has had a phenomenal season so far. The former Raptor and Spur has rejuvenated many things in the 2021-2022 season. Along with his own career, the USC alum has jumpstarted the Chicago Bulls’ rebuild. So much so that the Bulls have found themselves at the top of the Eastern Conference. The heroic efforts of DeRozan and co-star Zach Lavine have propelled their squad past the likes of the Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks. DeRozan’s teammate and fellow USC Spartan Nikola Vucevic called for the swingman to have more looks at the NBA MVP award. There is no time like the present, so it’s time to discuss: has Demar DeRozan earned himself a spot in the MVP conversation?

The Case For Demar

DeRozan has certainly turned back the clock. At age 32, the Compton native has excelled as a power forward in Billy Donovan’s small-ball system. He is averaging 26.8 points per game, the second-highest scoring mark of his career. As well, Demar has improved his distance shooting, with a career-best 37.3 percent from three. Even with lots of uncertainty surrounding the roster, he has not shied away from it in the slightest. The Bulls have experienced season-ending injuries, COVID outbreaks, and plenty of adversity. Predictions at the start of the season thought this team would not work out. One of the largest reasons for that doubt was DeRozan himself. Experts thought his free-agent deal with Chicago would be a bust and take them nowhere fast.

However, it’s safe to say the opposite happened. DeRozan has been a leader on both the floor and in the locker room. As the first player to record consecutive buzzer-beaters on consecutive nights, it’s safe to say that DeRozan and the Bulls are thriving. Even with a hectic offseason, the Bulls have kept a steady ship. Some are calling for them to make the Eastern Conference Finals, with DeMar a big reason for that. Even though he has not personally been to the Finals, he’s a playoff veteran. His tenure with the Raptors included frequent playoff appearances. He knows when the games will matter most. Lifting his scoring and shooting numbers while contributing to winning is absolutely a recipe for an MVP-caliber season.

The Case Against DeMar

Disclaimer: This is just from my perspective. I do think that he should get some shouts for MVP. However, I don’t quite see him on the level of Steph Curry or Kevin Durant. Crazy as that may seem, I do think he is easily in the Top 5 of the MVP ladder. I find him as more of a fit for the Most Improved Player award. Even though guys like Miles Bridges have made a big leap, DeMar is a veteran. People were thinking he was on the decline. Some believed his reliance on the midrange and hesitancy for shooting threes would be his downfall. However, he has silenced just about every doubter.

Bumping his scoring average by over 5 points from last season is DeMarvelous. Posting a career-high mark for 3-point shooting in your 13th season is incredible. I just feel like what he is doing fits better in the MIP conversation. However, if the Bulls continue to excel, then he should still have a small foot in the MVP door. Being able to make a marked step up on a new team, in a new system, and at that age looks more like a mark of Improvement rather than Value if you ask me.

DeMar DeRozan has been stellar this season. Nearing a career-high PPG while putting the Bulls at the top of the Eastern Conference is more than impressive. He certainly has a case for being talked about as MVP. He also has, however, some reservations. In my book, I see Demar as very close to a lock for Most Improved Player. Putting him ahead of Steph Curry and Kevin Durant would be difficult at this point in the season. Regardless, Vendetta’s Karl Heiser looks dead-on thus far for DeRozan’s Bulls this year.

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