DeMar DeRozan is not winning the NBA MVP this season.
The media hype machine is not in the small forwards advantage, and the fact that he is playing alongside another candidate in Zach LaVine means that even if the Bulls are put under a microscope by the voters, there may be some divided voices.
However, there is no doubt that DeRozan should be in the debate with the first quarter of the season almost in the books.
Even with a bizarre performance – by the standards DeRozan has set this season – in the loss to Indiana on Monday, the veteran was 11th in the league in PER [Player Efficiency Rating], and sixth in scoring with 26.3 per game, and doing so on a Bulls team that has sprinted out of the gate for a 12-6 start.
But numbers do not necessarily measure the man.
DeRozan’s influence is greater than statistics and analysis.
His presence on the field has made life easier for LaVine, especially the late match where opposing teams have to pick a poison between the two All-Stars. But DeRozan’s off-field mentoring scheme has been even more important.
“I’ve never played with a player like Zach before,” DeRozan said. “The things he is capable of doing offensively are frighteningly honest, how easily he can do the things he can do. It raises my level to go out there and would be neck-and-neck with him in competing and help this team win.
“When I was playing with Kyle [Lowry back in Toronto], he taught me a lot. He was older than me and now the roles have somehow changed, just trying to teach Zach as much as I’ve learned since I was in the league, and just going out there with him has definitely been a fun thing. ”
And a productive one.
Just behind DeRozan in the score was Lavine with 25.9 points per. match. The only other team to have teammates each scoring close to that clip was the Timberwolves, who had Karl-Anthony Towns 15.th with 23.4 points per. match and Anthony Edwards 18th with 22.2 points per.
Just do not talk to DeRozan about anything other than winning and getting better.
He was asked if the MVP talk started circulating around him, and quickly dismissed it as anything but that – talk.
“I want to be honest with you, I never think about it [MVP talk], ” said DeRozan. “Winning takes care of everything, and as long as we do what we have to on the field, win, everything you want will come with it, and you take it as it comes.
“For me, I just try to go out there and play every single game. It’s always an honor to just be mentioned as one of the best in the game, you never take that for granted, but for me I just want to keep trying to be a winner and win as many matches as I can. When it all piles up, it comes with what comes with it. ”
So if not DeRozan, who saw so far? It’s pretty unique:
1. Stephen Curry – Golden State – The best player on the best team, and the best shooter ever, Curry is the odds on the leader so far.
2. Nikola Jokic – Denver – The record is not where it should be, but “Joker” puts the same – if not better – numbers than he did last season when he was named MVP.
Jimmy Butler – Miami – The former Bull is on his way to a career-year of scoring and has a ridiculous PER of 30.63, which is third in the league.
Giannis Antetokounmpo – Milwaukee – His scoring and field goal percentage is a bit down, but still an elite force.
5. Kevin Durant – Brooklyn – Still one of the greatest all-around scorers the game has seen.