The worst free agent signing of the offseason was an actual narrative some people went with when the Chicago Bulls secured DeMar DeRozan. It never made much sense at the time. The guy was already a four-time All-Star and had another solid year in San Antonio, averaging 21.6 points and 6.9 assists per game. He also averaged a career-best 88% from the free throw line. So that narrative was weak, to begin with. Now? People are laughing at it.
DeRozan might not only be the best free agent signing of this past offseason, but he might also be the best in Bulls history, and his first season isn’t even over. That is how incredible the guard has been, especially over the past month. With injuries hitting the team at every turn, they’ve needed him to step up. The 32-year old did that and then some. He has now established a viable case for league MVP in the process. Something he further cemented on Wednesday night at the United Center where he broke an NBA record that had stood since 1963.
A record held by all-time great Wilt Chamberlain.
The game marked the seventh straight time that DeRozan scored 35 or more points on 50% or better shooting. Chamberlain did it six times twice in 1960-61 and 1962-63. Think about that. Chamberlain was one of the two or three most dominant offensive forces in NBA history. He is still 7th in NBA history in total points scored despite playing by far the fewest games of anybody else. Being mentioned in the same breath as him is a big deal.
Thanks to DeMar DeRozan doing these crazy things, the Bulls have won five straight going into the All-Star break. They will at least share first place in the Eastern Conference, depending on what happens in the Miami Heat’s upcoming game. To think the team is doing this despite not having three of their best players available for long stretches of the season is worthy of so much praise.
If DeRozan can somehow keep this up, this team should be a viable championship contender when everybody returns healthy towards the end of the regular season.