Chicago Bulls: All-NBA watch for DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine

Chicago Bulls (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Chicago Bulls (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

The final stretch of the NBA season will decide where DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine fall in All-NBA voting.

The Chicago Bulls star guards are looking to lead their team to a top seed in the Eastern Conference, as they currently sit in fifth, with just five games separating them from first and 2.5 games keeping them out of second. If LaVine and DeRozan are able to pull off a winning streak to end the season, they will be looking at making one of the three All-NBA Teams.

While DeRozan should be a lock to make one of the teams, LaVine will have to finish the year on a near superhero run to make the cut. Aside from making an All-NBA Team being a huge honor, there are major financial implications that are attached to the recognition.

Will any Chicago Bulls players make an All-NBA team?

The Bulls are playing like a second-tier contender at the moment. Yes, they have stars and a good record, but they are 0-14 against current top-three teams in each conference. Their recent loss to the Milwaukee Bucks was the epitome of their woes against elite teams. They were unable to generate offense, couldn’t get stops, and visibly quit when they went down double digits.

That trend has knocked DeRozan out of the MVP race and likely out of the All-NBA First-Team. LaVine shouldn’t be in the field right now, either. Currently, we predict the All-NBA Teams to shake out as follows:

Projection for First-Team All-NBA

  • Ja Morant (Memphis Grizzlies)
  • Devin Booker (Pheonix Suns)
  • Luka Doncic (Dallas Mavericks)
  • Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks)
  • Nikola Jokic (Denver Nuggets)

Projection for Second-Team All-NBA

  • Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors)
  • Jayson Tatum (Boston Celtics)
  • DeMar DeRozan (Chicago Bulls)
  • Kevin Durant (Brooklyn Nets)
  • Joel Embiid (Philadelphia 76ers)

Projection for Third-Team All-NBA

  • Chris Paul (Pheonix Suns)
  • Donovan Mitchell (Utah Jazz)
  • Jimmy Butler (Miami Heat)
  • LeBron James (Los Angeles Lakers)
  • Karl-Anthony Towns (Minnesota Timberwolves)

What does DeMar DeRozan need to do to earn an All-NBA Team nod?

Currently, DeRozan is a lock for the All-NBA Second Team. He’s averaging 27 points on 50% shooting from the field. He led the NBA in fourth quarter scoring for much of the season, and has led to the Bulls to what will be their first postseason since 2017.

While March has been a rough month for DeRozan (and the Bulls), he’s had a strong overall season with memorable performances against elite teams. He led the Bulls to six-game winning streak in February, and went on an NBA-record eight-game streak of 35-point games with at least 50% shooting. He also had a 10-game streak of scoring 30 or more and scored 30 or more in 26 of the Bulls’ 72 contests this season.

There are still fans who believe that DeRozan deserves a spot on the All-NBA First-Team. With the Bulls losing to Morant’s Grizzlies and Booker’s Suns, he would need to put together another crazy scoring spree paired with a winning streak. That’s the only way he’ll have a shot to make the leap.

How can Zach LaVine make an All-NBA Team?

LaVine, Darius Garland and Fred VanVleet are right on the cusp behind Paul and Mitchell. With Paul sidelined and the Suns still dominating, the argument for his impact and leadership pushing the Suns over the top has simmered a bit. Mitchell has been up and down this season, and is benefitting from having a top-notch roster around him.

LaVine can easily glide into one of those spots if he has a strong finish to the season on both ends of the court. He has averaged 28 points against the 10 remaining teams on the Bulls’ schedule. With Chicago only 2.5 games out of the No. 3 seed, LaVine being a dynamic scorer when it matters will put them in the position to move up in the standings.

Additionally, making an All-NBA Team matters much more for LaVine, as his free agency ceiling will be determined by such an honor. He’s eligible for a five-year max contract this summer if he re-signs with the Bulls. That number is jumps even higher if he makes an All-NBA team — he would be eligible for the designated veteran “supermax” contract, which would pay him roughly $245 million over five years.

The unfortunate aspect of all this is that the Bulls have been impacted by injuries and have been playing poorly for over a month now. They’ll need to do a complete 180 to put their top to players in the best position to succeed, but at this point the concern is maintaining a high enough seed to avoid the play-in tournament.

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