DeMar DeRozan is determined to not let the Bulls fail

Chicago Bulls v Los Angeles Clippers
Chicago Bulls v Los Angeles Clippers / Ronald Martinez/GettyImages

Every time the Chicago Bulls stumble, it seems DeMar DeRozan is there to catch them and prevent the team from crashing into the ground. At least, it seemed that way last night, when the Bulls traveled to Indiana to play what felt like a must-win scenario against their division-rival Pacers.

Originally intended to be the Robin to Zach LaVine's Batman, DeRozan wasn't even signed to become this team's clear top option. It didn't take long for him to assume the role anyway, as his play spoke for him. Now that LaVine has had to miss extensive time due to injury, it's fair to say that the Bulls would have certainly fallen apart without him around to steer the ship.

DeRozan stepped up against the Pacers and proved he's still a star in today's NBA, dropping a ridiculous 46 points on just 24 shots — a season-high for the forward. He also chipped in 9 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, and a single block while posting a +18 plus/minus. Despite his incredible impact on the game, the Bulls would fail to hold the lead while he got a rare rest on the bench.

After drilling a ridiculous game-tying shot in the final seconds of regulation, DeMar would send last night's game into overtime, where DeRozan would once again need to dig deep in the clutch for the Bulls to have any hope of winning. Fortunately, Chicago would prevail this time, as DeRozan helped seal a 132-29 victory with a huge three-pointer and multiple free throws in the closing minutes of the contest.

DeMar DeRozan is single-handedly willing these mediocre Bulls into playoff contention.

DeRozan's excellence in the scoring department is far from a secret these days. That being said, what has surprised me the most is that he's taken things to an entirely new level since joining forces with the Bulls. 10 of DeMar's 18 instances of scoring 41+ points have happened with him in a Bulls uniform, including 5 of his highest 6 scoring games.

DeRozan had already played 12 seasons in the NBA before coming to Chicago, so the fact he has accomplished so much in just these last 3 years in Chicago is truly spectacular. He has without a doubt cemented himself as the best free agent acquisition in this franchise's 58-year-long history.

Unlike LaVine, however, DeMar's value isn't defined solely by his ability to make an on-court impact. It didn't take long for DeRozan to assume the role of locker room leader after signing with Chicago. He's clearly someone this team looks to not only in the clutch moments of close games but also behind the scenes in training sessions and practice.

“With that, I try to give as much as I can whether it’s through conversation or actions just to show them the way so they can be better,” DeRozan told reporters in September of 2022, “For me it’s an honor because I know what it was like for me when I was young when any older guy came to me with any type of conversation or anything that was helpful to me, I took it and ran with it.”

Coby White and Ayo Dosunmu have put in an immense amount of work to make the strides they have thus far, but I'm not sure they would have gotten this far with DeRozan's veteran presence guiding them along the way. For a franchise that has notoriously struggled to develop its talent internally, DeMar has been a godsend in that department.

As good of a signing as DeRozan has turned out to be, his contract was never going to last forever. DeRozan's deal is set to expire at the end of the season, making him an impending unrestricted free agent. I hope he opts to re-sign with the Bulls, but even if he doesn't, there should be no hard feelings from the fans. DeMar has already given us everything we could have asked and so much more.

Let's enjoy these final 16 regular season games while we still can because it might be the last time we get the chance to see a player as excellent as DeMar DeRozan in a Chicago Bulls uniform for quite some time.