DeMar DeRozan is fully in The DeMar Zone, making history with his ridiculous scoring exploits and not only saving the Bulls from falling down the standings but keeping them near the top. Just when it seemed like the Bulls were in trouble with all their injuries, DeRozan led the Bulls on a five-game winning streak heading into the All-Star break to get to 38-21.
But DeRozan isn’t doing this all by himself. He’s getting some much-needed help from Nikola Vucevic and Coby White, which has been especially important with Zach LaVine hurting.
After being so inconsistent to start the season, Vucevic hit rock bottom with that 4-of-19 disaster against his former team, the Magic, on Jan. 23. Ever since then, Vooch has been playing at an All-Star level, looking much more like the player the Bulls traded a haul for last season.
In 14 games since that debacle, Vucevic is averaging 23.3 points, 13.1 rebounds and 4.1 assists in 36.2 minutes per game. His 3-point shot has been cold at 30.0%, but he’s still at 58.2% from the field overall despite the poor 3-point shooting. That means he’s at a red-hot 67.4% on 2-pointers. All those chippies around the basket he was missing earlier this season? They’re all going in now:
It’s worth noting that nearly 56% of his shot attempts have come in the paint during this stretch, which is a jump up from earlier in the season. Doing more work in the paint is clearly helping him out, though some of this is likely him just reverting to his normal field goal percentage (he’s up to 47.5% on the season).
Regardless, it’s great to see Vooch back to form, and Ricky even mentioned on our last Cash Considerations pod that it’s great to see him going up with authority off the dribble more often, which we saw twice against the Kings. His passing ability in the middle of the court is also a huge boon for the offense, and the Bulls are doing a good job of taking advantage of his unique skill set.
As for White, he slumped right around the time Vooch hit rock bottom, but he has picked things up again in February, especially since the trade deadline. While White wasn’t involved in many trade rumors, it had to be a relief for him to not be moved. His first half after the trade deadline against the Timberwolves was ugly, but he responded with a huge second half and has been hot ever since.
White is 21-of-33 from 3-point range since the deadline, 24-of-43 during the five-game winning streak and nearly 51% for the month, getting him to over 40% on the season. In the last few games especially, though, White has been showing off a well-rounded game. He’s averaging 23.3 points, 6.3 rebounds and 4.5 assists while shooting 56.4% from the field since the deadline.
The guard matched a season high with 24 points against the Spurs while also handing out six dimes, grabbing five boards and only turning the ball over once. He took a season-high eight free throws and made seven of them. White then smashed his season high with 31 points on 11-of-19 from the field and 6-of-11 from 3 against the Kings, also recording six assists, five rebounds and only one turnover in that game.
White showed some impressive off-the-dribble juice in the Kings game, including this hesitation dribble that keeps getting more dangerous:
In, out dribble, into a hesi step, then the burst to rim, is something Coby has added to his bag this season.— Mark K (@mkhoops) February 17, 2022
With his speed, he's able to get to rim relatively uncontested.
Vooch being a shooter makes this even more possible. pic.twitter.com/Injdm6vCPr
The version of White we’ve seen of late is extremely valuable, and if he sticks around it will give Billy Donovan a good problem to have when figuring out playing time in the playoffs, assuming all the guards are healthy. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see him swing at least one playoff game.
Ayo Dosunmu and Javonte Green also deserve shoutouts here, as all the Bulls’ starters have generally done an incredible job covering for a horrendous bench. The starters scored 117 of the 125 points against the Kings. It feels like a miracle the Bulls are 38-21 at the break, and it has taken a historic DeMar DeRozan and some help from his friends to get here as they keep winning shootouts. Chicago is fourth in offensive rating on the season and fifth during the winning streak.
The hope is the Bulls become more of a two-way team again when the cavalry comes, and while DeRozan will cool off at some point, Vucevic and White playing at this level would be huge when it comes to a possible playoff run.