Should DeMar DeRozan be the NBA MVP?

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When the Chicago Bulls acquired DeMar DeRozan over the offseason, it went a bit under the radar. DeRozan was still a nice player, but his reputation had fallen quite a bit since his Raptors days and the DeRozan-Kawhi Leonard trade. According to reports, the New York Knicks basically picked Evan Fournier over DeRozan this past offseason.

I don’t think anybody expected the DeRozan signing to work out so well for the Bulls. He’s currently averaging a career high in points per game. The Bulls have been a lot better than everyone expected. With DeRozan being the impetus behind the surprising season for Chicago, does DeRozan have a legitimate NBA MVP case?

DeRozan should at least get votes

Currently, DeMar DeRozan is 12-to-1 to win the NBA MVP. Those are the fifth-best odds ahead of superstars like Steph Curry, Devin Booker and Luka Doncic. DeRozan is clearly in the MVP picture as we approach the final weeks of the season.

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DeRozan is averaging 28.1 points per game, which is a career high. It’s the fourth-highest mark in the league. DeRozan recently had a 10-game stretch in which he eclipsed 30 points in every game. He’s in the top-10 in usage percentage, which means the Bulls’ offense flows through DeRozan. This is a Chicago team that averages over 112 points per game, which is more than teams like Golden State and Brooklyn.

DeMar DeRozan celebrates after Nikola Vucevic's 3-point basket in the final minute of the second half against the Raptors at the United Center in Chicago on Jan. 26, 2022. (Armando L. Sanchez/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

DeMar DeRozan is in the NBA MVP race. (Armando L. Sanchez/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

There’s also no better fourth-quarter player in the league than DeRozan. As of March 3, he has 50 more fourth-quarter points than the second-highest scorer, Giannis Antetokounmpo. DeRozan is shooting over 55% from the field, 44% from three and over 86% from the charity stripe in the fourth quarter. When the game is tight and in doubt, DeRozan takes over.

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You also need to consider the performance of the team. The Bulls were 11-to-1 to win their division prior to the start of the season. They lead the Central Division as we enter the final stretch of the season. Their preseason win total was 42.5 wins. They are going to soar over that total. They have the third-best record of all NBA teams against the spread, which means they’ve certainly exceeded expectations on a consistent basis. DeRozan needs to get a lot of credit for that.

Who does DeRozan need to beat out?

There are four players ahead of DeRozan in the MVP odds:

  • Joel Embiid is a -110 odds-on favorite to win MVP. If the season ended today, it’d be Embiid’s award. There are two main concerns with Embiid, however. He’s had injury issues in the past. In addition, will the addition of James Harden lessen Embiid’s glow?

  • Nikola Jokic has the second-best odds to win the award at +300. Jokic won the MVP last year and has carried the Nuggets despite some key injuries.

  • Antetokounmpo is +550 to win NBA MVP. The Greek Freak already has two MVPs and a finals MVP under his belt.

  • Ja Morant at 11-to-1 has slightly better MVP odds than DeRozan. Morant has had a sensational season for the Grizzlies. Memphis is probably the most surprising team in the league this season.

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