Straight Outta Compton| DeMar DeRozan Is Two Historic Buzzer Beaters Closer To…An MVP?

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DeMar DeRozan became the first player in NBA history to make a game winning buzzer beater on consecutive days. At 24-10, his Chicago Bulls have the best record in the Eastern Conference, and on Monday Jan. 3, he was named player of the week for the conference. Is he an MVP candidate?

It’s good to be DeRozan.

His three-year, $81 million contract in the offseason was panned by most NBA media. All DeRozan has done is put up 26.8 points, 5.1 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game — on 49/37/87 shooting splits.

According to NBA.com, DeRozan has scored the most clutch points (51) in the league this season. In those moments, he is 15-27 from the field and a perfect 21-21 from the free- throw line.

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DeRozan leads the league in fourth quarter scoring, averaging eight points per final frame. He’s shooting 53 percent from the field and from three, while converting 87 percent from the line.

If the MVP ballots were submitted today, he would be on every ballot. But how realistic is it for DeRozan to win the first MVP of his career?

We made the case with his counting stats, and if the Bulls finish with a top-three seed in the East, he will have a compelling narrative argument.

The Bulls have only made the playoffs once in the last six seasons, finishing barely above .500 just twice during that span. The over/under win total for the Bulls was set at 42.5 this season according to Las Vegas, they are on pace to win 51 games.

DeRozan’s game winners and “Mr. 4th quarter” title all help fuel the narrative that the Bulls wouldn’t be this good without him. The NBA MVP is a narrative-based award, and right now he’s got a great story.

If he maintains this level of production, hits a couple of more big shots in late games on nationally televised games and the Bulls finish with the wins, he’ll be right there.

But will he be the league’s most valuable player?

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DeRozan is +4.5 in EPM, which places him in the 96th percentile. But that’s behind the other MVP favorites Kevin Durant (+5.2), Giannis Antetokounmpo (+7.8), Steph Curry (+8.4) and Nikola Jokic (+9.4).

In the last 10 seasons the NBA MVP has led the league in win shares per 48 nine times. The only outlier was Russell Westbrook’s MVP season; he was 10th. As of Jan. 3, DeRozan is 20th in WS/48.

To be fair, no stat is 100 percent perfect in identifying a player’s value. Counting stats are devoid of context and advanced stats often give context to a specific area, but misses out on other factors.

For example: Overall FG percentage tells you how well a person shoots the ball in theory. But all field goal attempts count the same. That’s why we use eFG percentage. While TS percentage tells you how efficient a shooter is, it doesn’t factor just shot making into the equation. It adds in free throws as well. So what if you make shots, but don’t get to the line a lot? Does it mean you’re less valuable or not as good?

Stats are just tools in your tool box to help you understand what your eyes are seeing.

DeRozan is likely going to be a starter for the Eastern Conference in the All-Star Game and will likely make an all-NBA team this season. He also might be the league MVP.


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