DeRozan: 'Everybody's a threat' when Bulls are healthy, playing the right way
The clips were all over Twitter this summer. DeMar DeRozan made a few appearances at the Drew League, a pro-am summer circuit in Los Angeles.
At one game, a recreation league all-star appeared to be treating the contest like Game 7 of the NBA Finals, fouling DeRozan aggressively, then clapping in his face as a packed house looked on.
Asked about the experience Monday at the Advocate Center, DeRozan said that's his idea of summer fun.
"Listen, that's how I grew up playing basketball," he said. "When I was in middle school, elementary school, high school, that was the element of basketball to me growing up. Just to get back and be in that environment, to me it means everything. "It's always great to be able to play in the NBA, put on an NBA jersey. But that type of environment is where it all started and what gave me the passion to love basketball in the first place."
Now DeRozan and the Bulls are ready to begin some less-intense contests with a better level of competition in the NBA preseason. The Bulls will play the first of four exhibition games Tuesday against New Orleans, which is inconveniently an 8:30 p.m. start at the United Center for TNT.
Coach Billy Donovan said after Monday's practice there are no plans for any regulars to sit out this game, but he wouldn't be surprised if not everyone plays in all four contests. DeRozan is ready to take the court, no matter the circumstances.
"I just want to play," he said. "I play all summer for free, so it don't mean nothing to me. Whatever coach feels comfortable with, whatever he thinks, that's what I'm going to go with. For me, once I break a sweat, I want to play."
One challenge for the Bulls as they start a new season is creating a multi-star system on offense. DeRozan dominated the scoring last year, averaging a career-high 27.9 points.
Some of that was by necessity, since Zach LaVine was hobbled by a sore knee and Lonzo Ball missed the second half of the season with his own knee issues. Ball remains sidelined, but the Bulls have a healthier LaVine and will try to keep center Nikola Vucevic more involved, while also hoping for a more aggressive Patrick Williams.
"The better you balance that, the better of a team we become," DeRozan said. "I think it's just understanding of balancing that, having guys available. The better we can find that balance, the better team we're going to be, and that's on us."
Being a Southern California native, DeRozan used sort of a Hollywood analogy. If a writer has others to help film and edit a script, everyone can focus on what they do best.
"I think having guys healthy and having our full team makes my job easier," he said. "You just play the right way when you have healthy guys out there, everybody's a threat.
"I've never in my career looked at how many points I need to average. I just go out there and play, wherever the chips fall, that's where it falls."
The second episode of DeRozan's YouTube video series follows him to the Drew League and looks in on his summer workouts. He said the idea to do the series, which began last summer, is based on what he wanted to watch as a young NBA fan.
"I didn't know how my favorite player sounded when he talk or what he do when I'm not watching him," he said. "What's his life like? I remember being a kid and wondering what Nick Van Exel did after games. I just want to get to an element of showing kids who watch us, what it's like to be an NBA player."
DeRozan said he still doesn't know what Van Exel did after games. Van Exel is a Kenosha native, though, so maybe a visit to the childhood home would provide some answers.