It’s starting to look more and more like the Chicago Bulls’ five-time All-Star forward DeMar DeRozan is included in the MVP conversation as this season progresses. A solid outing for DeRozan in the All-Star Game last weekend continued to raise awareness in the NBA about what he’s doing for the Bulls so far this season.
Very few players in the league this season have contributed as much to winning efforts as DeMar for the Bulls. This is evident in the fact that DeMar helped the Bulls to a tie with the Miami Heat for first place in the Eastern Conference standings coming off the All-Star Break. DeRozan and the Bulls are currently sitting on a 38-21 record.
Many of those game-winning efforts DeMar has given the Bulls lately have come amid a number of costly injuries for this team. Over the past two months, the Bulls have seen players like star guard Zach LaVine, winger Javonte Green, point guard Lonzo Ball, forward Derrick Jones Jr. and point guard Alex Caruso, among a few others, all miss out. a lot of time due to various injury issues.
It was a lot for DeMar to take on his shoulders. And the Bulls still made it to the All-Star Break on a five-game winning streak. You have key players like DeMar, center Nikola Vucevic, rookie point guard Ayo Dosunmu, and more to thank. for it.
There’s a real case to be made for DeMar that he should be front and center in the MVP conversation. When you hear most basketball fans talking about potential MVP candidates for this season, you don’t often hear DeMar’s name come up.
But there is a combination of metrics that prove just how worthy DeMar is to sit in the middle of the MVP conversation at this point in the season.
DeMar is one of four NBA players this season to have recorded at least seven win shares while having at least 25 expected wins (by Window cleaning). It shows that DeRozan is providing the Bulls with healthy contributions that are really contributing to success in the win column this season.
Most basketball fans know what win shares are at this point. But expected wins are calculated by Cleaning the Glass based on how many wins they expect a player to contribute in an 82-game season compared to the league average efficiency at their job.
Chicago Bulls star DeMar DeRozan made top five MVP conversations
So far this season, DeRozan has an expected win count of +26, which puts him in the 93rd percentile for his position group. And he also recorded 7.7 win shares, the seventh-best in the NBA so far.
The only three other players who have contributed at least seven win shares and an expected 25 wins this season are Giannis Antetokounmpo, Nikola Jokic and Stephen Curry. These are three superstars who are constantly mentioned in MVP conversation this season.
There are also a few players in the MVP conversation who don’t meet those parameters this season (i.e. Joel Embiid and Luka Doncic).
To provide historical context here, I think DeRozan would still have to maintain a fairly torrential pace to finish the regular season with MVP-worthy numbers to match past years’ winners.
If you average the numbers from the last 20 NBA MVPs, you get about 15.6 win shares and 0.267 win shares per 48 minutes as the norm for these metrics. Meanwhile, DeRozan has his aforementioned 7.7 winning actions and also 0.190 winning actions per 48 minutes.
Assuming DeRozan were to stick to his current pace of 0.14 win shares per game, he would be about 10.3 win shares by the end of the regular season (sidenote: this also assumes DeRozan is playing in each of the Bulls’ remaining games). This is well below the average number of winning actions (15.6) of the last 20 MVPs.
So while DeRozan has an impressive production worthy of being in the MVP conversation, he should realistically continue to produce at the rate he has been doing since late January. He averaged about 32 points per game, six rebounds and six assists while shooting 53% from the field and 30% from outside the arc.
Can he keep up this pace?
But the thing is, DeRozan is one of his team’s most valuable players this season and there are metrics that prove that point.
Overall, I believe the top five in the MVP race right now should be a combination of Embiid, Giannis, Steph, DeRozan, and Jokic. These five stand above the rest as stars who really should be considered in the outgoing All-Star Break MVP.
Next up for DeRozan and the Bulls coming out of the All-Star Break is a meeting with the Atlanta Hawks at home at the United Center on February 24. A win over the Hawks could bring the Bulls closer to 40 on the season and push their winning streak to six games.