DeMar DeRozan played last season under coach Gregg Popovich. They failed to enter the postseason, which triggered a semi-rebuild that sent DeRozan to the Chicago Bulls this year. The small forward revealed unconventional advice he received from Pop in his time in San Antonio.
Coach Pop: You should start flopping
DeRozan’s game can be described as old school: He prefers perimeter jumpers over 3-point shots in the era of spacing and analytics. One thing fans have noticed about his game was his perceived lack of tenacity, which shows in free-throw attempts in his career. DeRozan averaged 6.4 attempts at the charity stripe during the regular season in his 12 years in the NBA. The numbers are virtually the same in the playoffs, with 6.8 free-throw attempts per game. He addressed the issue in postgame interviews after their game against the Toronto Raptors.
“I don’t know, I don’t flop. That’s not a knock on anyone who flops. My mentality is to always try to be aggressive… When I was in San Antonio, Pop pulled me to the side one year and he told me I need to start flopping or try to flop. Because I wasn’t getting calls that I should get cause I absorb so much of the contact.”
DeMar DeRozan, Postgame
In light of the rule changes that took effect this year, where calls will no longer be whistled when offensive players throw their bodies to the defender to create a contact while attempting a shot, DeRozan’s numbers remain surprisingly the same, unlike James Harden, whose free-throw trips have plummeted down. It’s early in the season, but it speaks how the former Toronto Raptor has adjusted to the new rule, with an increased pace playing in Chicago alongside Zach LaVine and Lonzo Ball.
Bulls looking like a new team this year
Flopping is a basketball play, but it is unethical when players start to use it as often as possible. It stops the play and drags the game with fouls and free throws. Whether DeRozan takes advice from Pop more seriously or not, the Bulls are looking like a rejuvenated team with the new additions on the roster.
Alex Caruso, Lonzo Ball, and DeRozan all bring different dimensions to Chicago’s offense and defense. They can attack, create and hit outside shots. For his part, DeRozan provides leadership and playoff experience, as reported in Sideline Sources. With the new lineup, it takes the pressure off Zach LaVine and Nik Vucevic and preserves them in the playoffs if the Bulls make it.
The Bulls are 4-0 for the first time since the 1996-97 season, in which they ended up as champions. There is a new vibe in Chicago, and DeRozan is one of the main catalysts of that change. Let’s hope he wouldn’t start flopping more to score easy points.