DeRozan has been showcasing a lot of talent on the court, but his best trait just might be the calm and poise he brings to his teammates on a nightly basis – winning or losing.
PHILADELPHIA – There is a much-needed calm to DeMar DeRozan.
It’s not some obnoxious laid-back, California cool as much as it’s a veteran player just letting his teammates know, “You fall, I got you.”
DeRozan has brought a ton of intangibles to this Bulls roster, but so far his calm might be the most important.
The Monday comeback in Boston was just the latest example of it.
“I would say he’s incredibly poised,” coach Billy Donovan said of DeRozan. “He does not get out of sorts at all. And I think he’s great for our team, I think he’s great for Zach [LaVine]. I could tell Zach was pressing a little bit [on Monday] when shots weren’t falling. A couple times he was too aggressive and had an opportunity to pass it to some guys, but I think having a guy like DeMar out there, he plays with a pace, and a tempo, and a poise, you never take him out of what he’s doing.
“He’s a guy that has experienced a lot individually with the way his career has been, and also has experienced a lot of winning, so has been in a lot of different situations.”
Down 19 with just about 14 minutes of total game clock left, and on the road?
Sure, been there, done that.
“I’ve been in a lot of games being down big on the road, seeing things happen that’s possible,” DeRozan said. “For me it’s just keeping that calm, not getting rattled, and sharing whatever experience I can to kind of keep us together as well.”
He not only kept the Bulls together in the improbable 14-point win against the Celtics, but he kept things afloat while LaVine was working through some first-half shooting issues.
Not the first time DeRozan has sensed that he’s had to do that, and it’s not about to be his last.
LaVine has now played three games with torn ligaments in his left thumb, and the All-Star has been shaky early on in the last two games, as he figures out how hard to push the injury.
In the win over Utah, LaVine went 4-for-9 in the first half, while DeRozan put up 16 through the first two quarters, and 32 for the game.
Against Boston, LaVine was just 1-for-6 after the tip, scoring just four points at the half, before finishing 9-for-20 for 26 points. DeRozan had 21 at the half in Boston, finishing with 37.
It’s not a Batman and Robin situation for DeRozan, however. It’s more of the bigger brother holding down the fort while younger brother works through the bumps and bruises.
“Yeah, just a sense for me,” DeRozan said, when asked if he’s going out there and looking to take the pressure off LaVine early in games. “Still incredible things he’s able to do with his thumb. The more he gets comfortable with it, the easier my job will be and vice versa, I try and make it easy on him as well. Just continue to learn each other. He’s an incredible basketball player, but even more a human being.”
The same can be said about DeRozan, according to Donovan. So while there were critics of the Bulls adding him this offseason, Donovan has been very consistent when it comes to why they added the forward to the mix.
“I feel like when you watch these guys on film, his time in Toronto, his time in San Antonio, you watch and you try and see, ‘OK, what does he like, what he doesn’t like,’ ” Donovan said. “Unfortunately, I don’t think people get to see what kind of person he is. He’s a great guy, a team guy, really humble, I love working with him.”