Opinion: DeMar DeRozan… MVP?

Demar DeRozan’s historic season has opened the eyes of MVP voters, while leading the Chicago Bulls to first place in the East.


Paul Flicek, Staff Writer

In August 2021, DeMar DeRozan signed a three-year $81.9 million contract with the Chicago Bulls after being traded from the San Antonio Spurs. Zach Buckley, NBA reporter for Bleacher Report, ranked this as the worst free-agent signing of the year. “The Bulls should be better next season, but better as in maybe competing for the sixth or seventh seed in the East,” said Buckley. Fast forward six months, DeRozan has led the Bulls to the No.1 seed in the Eastern Conference at the All-Star break with a record of 38 wins and 21 losses. Against teams with a record over .500, the Bulls have 19 wins and 15 losses. The rest of the Bulls’ starters have missed a combined 97 games this season, which makes DeRozan’s play even more impressive. At this point of the season, I think it is clear that DeMar DeRozan is the most valuable player in the NBA. 

DeRozan broke Wilt Chamberlain’s record for the most consecutive games with 35+ points on 50% shooting (7 games). This brings his averages to 28/5/5 on 52% shooting for the season. His 28.1 points per game are the fourth most across the league. Although his stats are among the best in the NBA, DeRozan only has one thing on his mind. 

“No matter if I’m having a personal good day or bad day, when I come to work, the only thing that matters is getting a victory,” DeRozan said during his postgame interview following the Bulls’ victory over the Kings. 

Nikola Jokic (25/13/8), Joel Embiid (29/11/4), and Giannis Antetokounmpo (29/11/6) are heavily considered for taking home the trophy as well. Each of these players is having a magnificent season, but when you take player stats and team ranking into consideration, DeRozan is the clear favorite. 

Nikola Jokic is a heavy favorite, but the Nuggets are the current No.6 seed in the Western Conference with a record of 33 wins and 25 losses. Against teams with a winning record, they have 17 wins and 17 losses. It is rare for the MVP winner to be on a team that is not one of the top-four teams in the league. The most recent player to do so was Russell Westbrook during the 2016-17 season. The Thunder secured the No.6 seed in the West, while Westbrook averaged 31/10/10 while playing in 81 out of the 82 games that season. Jokic’s play this season has been impressive, but it will not be enough to win the award as the sixth seed. 

Joel Embiid and Giannis Antetokounmpo have nearly the same averages. The only difference is the Bucks are in third place in the East, and the 76ers are in fifth. The Bucks have 16 wins against teams over .500, along with 15 losses. The 76ers have an impressive 20 wins against teams over .500, with 16 losses. With the addition of James Harden to the 76ers, I can’t see Embiid’s stats getting much better this season. Giannis has played extremely well up to this point, but the Bucks have the hardest remaining schedule in the league. This will make or break his standing on the MVP ladder. If he dominates in the back half of the season against the best opponents, he will become the clear favorite. However, if Giannis begins to struggle, and the Bucks’ record falls during this stretch, it may not be enough to win his third MVP. 

The MVP award is controversial because nobody can decide on what should be considered when awarding the trophy. Should the player with the best stats win, or should it go to the best player on the best team? Luckily, DeMar DeRozan has the stats and the wins to deserve the award. If DeRozan can lead the Bulls to a top 2 seed in the East, while maintaining his hot streak of play, we may be seeing the award come back to Chicago for the first time since Derrick Rose won in 2011.