The Chicago Bulls are inching closer and closer to their first playoff berth since the 2017 season. The team has plenty of playoff experience, but no more than their best player — DeMar DeRozan.
DeRozan’s MVP-caliber season has fortified a crutch for the Bulls on offense. His 31.8 usage percentage undoubtedly ranks in the top percent of the NBA. His deadly isolation abilities carried the Bulls on offense this whole season yet sometimes hurt them too.
He goes into isolation in 16.8 percent of plays, averaging the seventh-most points per game in that area. On top of that, he averages the fifth-most number of points as the pick-and-roll ball-handler.
It’s safe to say the Bulls rely on him to be the focal point on offense. Maybe even too much sometimes.
DeRozan against different defenses
Opposing defenses are starting to catch up to DeRozan. Defenses are starting to shy away from their contests out of fear of his frequent free throw attempts. More importantly, defenses are starting to double-team him anytime he gets free.
In recent games, DeRozan is a liability in some of these situations. Having a player that defenses feel the need to double-team is a huge advantage. He needs to be efficient in finding the open man in double-team situations.
This one is the primitive example I found. It’s also the ugliest.
DeRozan gets trapped up at the wing and throws the ball into the hands of Kevin Love. This one is difficult to analyze because there aren’t any white jerseys near to help.
Nonetheless, he needs to be mature in these situations. Dribble the ball back, wait for help, and get rid of the ball. He fails to do so and turns the ball over.
This is a clear example of how defenses will react to DeRozan finding open space on the floor in an isolation situation.
Alex Caruso commands the floor on this play and clears Zach LaVine to the corner to give DeRozan space to work in the corner. Immediately, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope drifts towards him.
He should see this, drag Tomáš Satoranský further in the corner, and bring KCP further away from his man. Doing this, it should open Caruso for a cut or a wide-open three.
However, DeRozan keeps and tries to shoot over Satoranský.
In this play, DeRozan has a couple of opportunities to get the ball away for a better opportunity.
Initially, Obi Toppin and R.J Barrett double him at the key. This ball needs to get to Patrick Williams in the middle. Doing this should collapse the defense and open opportunities for Coby White or Ayo Dosunmu on the wings or Tristan Thompson under the basket.
Toppin drops, and DeRozan tries to attack, but Toppin returns. As he does this, Mitchell Robinson comes up from under the basket to help too, freeing Thompson.
DeRozan eventually gets the ball to White. But, he had earlier and better chances to create an open basket for someone else.
DeRozan passes the ball
DeRozan has created chances for others through pick-and-roll situations and in double-teams. It’s important to notate that he can open up the door for others too.
This play is the bread and butter. DeRozan gets a healthy screen from Nikola Vucevic and feeds him the ball for doing so. An easy pick-and-pop situation for Vucevic.
Involving Vucevic is vital to the Bulls’ offense. Against the Washinton Wizards in the Bulls’ most recent win, Vucevic had 15 first-quarter points and finished with 27 on 12-of-19 shooting.
In this play, Ish Smith and Daniel Gafford come out to double DeRozan in the corner.
While he has his back turned to the double, he’s looking to find the open man. He doesn’t rush and he doesn’t dribble around. He waits and finds Thompson getting positioned towards the basket and feeds him for an easy layup.
Putting DeRozan in the corner to draw out the defense will prove effective on offense. The key factor will be positioning and finding the open man.
This is DeRozan’s most impressive pass in a tough defensive situation.
Off of a double-drag screen, Gafford pops out on DeRozan, Deni Avdija leaves White and traps, and Smith shifts up to cut off the bail-out pass to White.
He quickly recognizes the shifts and makes a difficult, cross-court pass to Patrick Williams. Williams gains his bearings and drives the ball for an awesome and-one bucket.
All set up by DeRozan himself. His IQ on offense will prove necessary in the playoffs as teams will likely come with doubles on him.