A simple metric that shows DeMar DeRozan belongs in MVP conversation

DeMar DeRozan, Chicago Bulls Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
DeMar DeRozan, Chicago Bulls Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports /

It’s starting to sound more and more like the Chicago Bulls five-time All-Star forward DeMar DeRozan is getting included in the MVP conversation as this season moves along. A solid outing for DeRozan during the All-Star Game last weekend continued to heighten the awareness around the NBA as to what he’s doing for the Bulls so far this season.

Very few players around the league this season have contributed as much to winning efforts as DeMar has for the Bulls. This is evident in the fact that DeMar has helped the Bulls reach a tie with the Miami Heat for first place in the Eastern Conference standings coming out of the All-Star Break. DeRozan and the Bulls are currently sitting on a record of 38-21.

A lot of these winning efforts DeMar gave the Bulls of late came amid a number of costly injuries for this team. In the last couple of months, the Bulls saw the likes of star shooting guard Zach LaVine, wing Javonte Green, point guard Lonzo Ball, forward Derrick Jones Jr., and point guard Alex Caruso, among a few others, all miss significant time due to various injury issues.

That was a lot for DeMar to take on his shoulders. And the Bulls still went into the All-Star Break riding a five-game winning streak. You have to thank key players such as DeMar, center Nikola Vucevic, rookie point guard Ayo Dosunmu, etc. for that.

There is a real case to be made for DeMar that he should be in the thick of 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 goes a long way to prove just how worthy DeMar is of sitting right in the midst of the MVP conversation at this point of the season.

DeMar is one of just four players in the NBA this season to register at least seven win shares while having at least 25 expected wins (per Cleaning the Glass). This goes to show that DeRozan is providing the Bulls with wholesome contributions that are really adding up 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 relative to league average efficiency at their position.

Chicago Bulls’ All-Star DeMar DeRozan belongs in the top five MVP conversation

So far this season, DeRozan has an expected win number of +26, which places him in the 93rd percentile for his position group. And he’s also registered 7.7 win shares, seventh-best in the NBA so far.

The only other three players that have contributed at least seven win shares and 25 expected wins this season are Giannis Antetokounmpo, Nikola Jokic, and Stephen Curry. Those are three superstars that are consistently mentioned in the MVP conversation this season.

There are also a few players that sit in the MVP conversation that don’t meet these metrics this season (i.e. Joel Embiid and Luka Doncic).

To provide some historical context here, I do believe that DeRozan would still have to keep on a pretty torrent pace to finish out the regular season with numbers worthy of winning MVP to match those award winners of years past.

If you average the numbers of the last 20 NBA MVPs, you get around 15.6 win shares and .267 win shares per 48 minutes as the standard for those metrics. Meanwhile, DeRozan has his aforementioned 7.7 win shares and also .190 win shares per 48 minutes.

Assuming DeRozan were to stick at his current pace of .14 win shares per game, he would get around 10.3 win shares by the end of the regular season (sidenote: this also assumes DeRozan plays in every single one of the Bulls’ remaining games). That is well below the average number of win shares (15.6) from the last 20 MVPs.

Thus, while DeRozan does have impressive production worthy of being in the MVP conversation, he would realistically have to continue producing at the pace he did since late January. He’s averaged around 32 points per game, six rebounds, and six assists while shooting 53 percent from the field and 30 percent from beyond the arc.

Can he keep up that pace?


But the fact of the matter is that DeRozan is one of the most valuable players to his team this season and there are metrics that prove this point.

All in all, I do believe that the top five of the MVP race right now should be some combination of Embiid, Giannis, Steph, DeRozan, and Jokic. Those five stand above the rest as the stars that should really be considered in the MVP coming out of the All-Star Break.

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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 Feb. 24. A win over the Hawks could move the Bulls one closer to 40 on the season and would push their winning streak to six games.