There’s a reason DeMar DeRozan inherited Michael Jordan’s locker. Besides Kobe Bryant, Jordan’s greatest student, DeRozan’s game is most similar to MJ since he retired. You could draw a line, in terms of playstyle, from MJ to Kobe to DeRozan. Not only that Kobe and DeMar share similar playing styles but nearly identical statistics at the young age of 32.
Kobe Bryant ’11 season at 32-years old: 25.3 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 4.7 APG, 49% FG
DeMar DeRozan ’22 season at 32-years old: 26.8 PPG a game, 5.2 RPG, 4.2 APG, 52% FG
But the patterned game and almost identical impact on the stat sheet don’t quite show the whole picture. Kobe was the league’s most feared offensive weapon, piling up a total of 37,366 minutes and scoring 25,790 points before the ’11 season even commenced. DeRozan had only played 30,046 minutes and dropped in 17,751 points before ’22. That doesn’t even begin to mention playoffs, where DeRozan has yet to channel any version of an ‘inner Kobe.’ While Kobe himself had just come off three straight Finals appearances at the time, winning the last two against the Magic and Celtics.
Plus, let’s not get started on defense…
But are the similarities that much of a shock since DeRozan has openly admitted to developing his game with Kobe Bryant in mind? What’s less known, however, is how much he idolized the mentality that we all fell in love with.
"For me, Kobe was my imagination... Kobe was the one I gravitated to. For me, to see the start, the fails, I remember begging my dad to get a newspaper just so I could see what he said after the game."
DeMar DeRozan, All The Smoke Podcast
It was this idolization for why Lonzo Ball can fairly say DeRozan “is the best midrange player” in the league. And since he is hitting from that area at a whopping 54% clip, excluding Kevin Durant, of course, DeRozan should be looked on for that crown. That’s only a little more efficient than Kobe’s 40% rate, but missing shots was always something we let Kobe pass on because of his innate ability to make them when they counted. Kind of like how this Bulls run is fading the memory of DeRozan getting benched by his own coach in playoff fourth quarters.
So their stats are almost identical, but their places in their career are completely opposite. Nevertheless, being mentioned in the same breath as Kobe Bean Bryant is never minor. Kobe did play all 82 games that ’11 season, coming fourth in MVP votes. Currently, DeMar DeRozan ranks 9th on Basketball Reference’s MVP tracker. Now, with over 100 NBA players in ‘health and safety protocols, it would be a miracle for a player to play in every game in one season today. Something DeRozan won’t one-up Kobe any time soon. All that remains to be seen is the playoffs. Can DeMar DeRozan finally make an imprint on a deep playoff run, or will it be more of the same as we saw in Toronto?