There’s definitely something old school about DeMar DeRozan.
It’s as if the Bulls forward graduated magna cum laude from Ball Don’t Lie University back in the day, spent the last 12 years putting together a solid All-Star resume, and now was brought to Chicago to not only try and end a four-year playoff drought, but also play mentor to the younger players along the way.
So when asked this week about trying to get a bunch of score-first type players to sacrifice a bit of their game to make this work, well, of course DeRozan took a very straight-forward, honest attitude in replying.
“It’s basketball at the end of the day,” DeRozan said. “You put me out there, I’m going to figure out whatever needs to be figured out for us to be successful. I don’t overthink it. I think that’s when a lot of people get in trouble – when you try to overthink this game. It’s a simple game. You understand what it takes, what needs to be done and you go out there and execute it and do it to the best of your abilities.
“That’s what it’s all about. I don’t get caught up in ‘I got to do this, do this.’ Whatever it takes to win, that’s all I care about.”
An attitude that just might be perfect for this group.
Even when executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas acquired All-Star big man Nikola Vucevic at the trade deadline last season, all the talk between the center and elite scorer Zach LaVine over the final push of the season was meshing and figuring out how to make it work.
Overthinking It 101.
That’s why the addition of DeRozan might be right place, right time, especially with all he’s gone through the last four seasons, having to leave a Raptors organization that he knew his entire career, spending the last three years with the Spurs, and getting a first-hand lesson on the true meaning of “whatever it takes to win.”
That’s why the idea of having three 20-point plus scorers a night on the same roster doesn’t have DeRozan overly-concerned about figuring out how to make it work, especially with LaVine.
The two can both score, can both play-make, and trust their abilities to hit final shots that matter. But in DeRozan’s opinion it doesn’t have to be put under a microscope to figure out.
“It’s not rocket science,” DeRozan said. “[LaVine] has a passion for the game and a love and appreciation to want to win. The knowledge and everything I’ve gained over my years being in the league and being in different situations and seeing success and playing with all type of players, I understand what it takes. So for me, it’s just about us putting in the hard work and understanding each other. And not just me and him – as a team, as a collective together. And once we unlock that and figure that part out, with hard work and just being consistent it’s going to go a long way.”
LaVine sounds like he’s buying into that theory as well.
He made sure to spend some time working out with DeRozan once the vet was acquired, and both also arrived into Chicago a few weeks early for the start of camp, again looking to get over any growing pains.
“We’re not going to try and change our games and not step on each other’s feet because if we’re not playing our games we’re not ourselves,” LaVine said. “They brought us here to be ourselves, so we’re going to go in there with that mindset and figure it out, but with great players going in with one goal it will figure itself out.”
See, it’s really not rocket science, and LaVine sounds like a fast learner.