The Chicago Bulls front office has built a pretty interesting team moving forward. They didn’t entirely address their shooting issues, but they made incremental improvements and added some much-needed wing depth, which will be helpful. Chicago signed Torrey Craig and brought back Ayo Dosunmu, which will give them flexibility on the perimeter this season. With all this added depth on the wing, it got me thinking, could a shift back to the power forward position be in the cards for DeMar DeRozan this season?
The days of traditional big men like Zach Randolph and Carlos Boozer are long gone. There are very few power forwards whose primary traits are toughness and physicality. Nowadays, players who would have been small forwards just 10 years ago now occupy the power forward spot in a perimeter-centric NBA.
If the Bulls were to move DeMar to the four, he’d have a few offensive advantages. He’s not a three-point shooter nor does he have a long range, but he’s effective in the mid-range. Last year he took 61% of his total shots from there and was once again a league leader in efficiency.
He also used to attack the paint a lot as a pick-and-roll ball handler, where he averaged 10 points per game on those plays by shooting 53.2% from the field. But this style of play can take a lot of energy and often stops the ball.
Instead, you could put him on the wing inside the three-point line, where he would be two dribbles away from the rim. It will shrink the defense and open up more space on the wings. He could still play pick-and-roll there and it would also shorten a role for the big man. Those previously mentioned numbers could go even higher. Bulls players that thrive in the paint like Andre Drummond would get more layups out of these situations.
DeRozan didn’t post up a lot last year. He averaged only 1.9 post-ups per game and 1.33 points out of those situations. Since he has incredible footwork, it’s a bit strange, that Billy Donovan didn’t give more opportunities for him to go to work down low in the post.
Mixing things up with Demar DeRozan at power forward may help make the Bulls a more dangerous and versatile team.
It would add an interesting wrinkle to the Bulls’ offense. Instead of running traditional pick-and-roll with the center, you could run the same action with DeRozan as a screener and instead of him rolling to the basket, he could roll to the post area. It would stop the ball, but the Bulls weren’t a big assist team last year anyway.
I’ve mentioned Torrey Craig before for a reason. He could be the key to unlocking all of the aforementioned plays in a new scheme. In the East, you have Jayson Tatum or Julius Randle playing the power forward position. You don’t want DeMar stuck on those guys defensively. That’s where Torrey Craig comes in. He’s a good defender and can defend multiple positions. He also has a solid shooting stroke that forces defenses to respect him on the perimeter, so offensively you won’t be playing four-on-five either.
I think Patrick Williams could fill that role too, but you want him on the opposing team’s best player, not exclusively matched up against bigs on the low block. When Lonzo Ball and Patrick Williams went down in the 2021-22 season, DeMar played power forward for a while. His stats during his eight-game peak from February 6 to February 24 was astonishing. He averaged a whopping 38.4 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 5.3 assists while posting an incredible 63.4% effective field-goal percentage.
Sure, DeRozan looked absolutely gassed by the end of the season, but you don’t have to play him there all the time. By incorporating this scheme in spurts, DeRozan’s skillset could be better optimized. Most importantly, it would mean the Bulls would no longer be the most predictable offense in the NBA, and grant them a lot more flexibility on both ends of the court.