The 2021-22 season went pretty well for the Chicago Bulls. They revamped their roster during the 2021 NBA offseason and rode their new core group to the playoffs. By the time they made it there, they were beset by injuries and ultimately lost to the Milwaukee Bucks in their first-round series in five games.
DeRozan proved his critics wrong during the 2021-22 season
Easily the most significant signing for the Bulls during the 2021 offseason was DeMar DeRozan. The Bulls landed DeRozan in a sign-and-trade with the San Antonio Spurs in which they handed him a new three-year, $85 million deal and sent Thaddeus Young, a first-round pick, and two second-round picks to the Spurs.
Many labeled the deal as a horrendous overpay by the Bulls, both in terms of money and assets. DeRozan was heading into his age 32 season and hadn’t been his usual self during his time with the Spurs.
Many agreed that the Bulls’ move for DeRozan was the worst of the offseason. ESPN polled scouts and executives who said the move for DeRozan was tied for the worst with the New Orleans Pelicans’ overall offseason strategy (which also didn’t age too well). Bleacher Report also ranked the DeRozan trade as the worst move of the offseason. And despite that, the Bulls’ acquisition of DeRozan ended up being one of the best moves of the entire 2021 offseason.
DeRozan put together one of the best seasons of his career with the Bulls
DeRozan fit his new Bulls team like a glove in his first campaign with them. He cut down on his recent playmaking improvements during his time with the Spurs and stepped up to be their go-to offensive option, which was crucial given all the players that were in and out of the lineup all season long. DeRozan scored 27.9 points per game, which was the highest per game scoring average of his career.
DeRozan would earn his first All-Star selection since the 2017-18 season and was selected to the All-NBA second team. DeRozan also stepped up his defensive efforts to make sure he couldn’t get singled out as the weakest link on his team, and while he’s still not the best defender, he held his own for much of the season.
Put it all together, and DeRozan had arguably the best season of his career. The Bulls showed what they were capable of early in the season before they got destroyed by injuries in the second half of the season. With DeRozan leading the way, the Bulls could make a serious run in the Eastern Conference if they stay healthy in the 2022-23 season.