DeRozan ready to lead Bulls into real competition

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Chicago Bulls' DeMar DeRozan, left, was brought in to be a veteran presence on a young roster. So far he's pleased with his new team.

    Chicago Bulls' DeMar DeRozan, left, was brought in to be a veteran presence on a young roster. So far he's pleased with his new team. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 10/18/2021 8:41 PM

DeMar DeRozan will begin his 13th NBA season and play for his third team when the Bulls open in Detroit on Wednesday.

Asked if it feels like it's been that long, DeRozan had a split decision.

 

"The reason I say yeah is because some of the music some of these kids listen to, that makes me feel old," he said. "And even sometimes you bringing up like old scenarios that I didn't think was a long time ago, you realize some of them were three years old or five years old."

Well DeMar, take it from someone who saw Wilt Chamberlain play at the Stadium, that feeling only gets worse. DeRozan turned 32 in August, so it's not like he's old by any definition.

After going 4-0 in preseason, everyone is curious to see how the new-look Bulls will fare in real competition. The schedule makes a fast start seem possible. The Pistons are unsure if No. 1 overall draft pick Cade Cunningham will play Wednesday. He missed all of preseason with an ankle injury, then returned to practice Monday.

After the opener, the Bulls will host New Orleans without Zion Williamson, face Detroit again, then visit DeRozan's former home, Toronto, which won't have Pascal Siakam.

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"When we played in the preseason we tried to take it as real as we can to get ourselves more time to gel with this team" Zach LaVine said Monday at the Advocate Center. "It's a new team so we know it's not going to be that easy, We are going to have adversity, we are going to have ups and downs throughout the season, but the preseason showed the potential we have and the room to grow we have."

DeRozan was brought in to be the veteran mentor of this group, since he's experienced more success in the league than fellow starters LaVine, Lonzo Ball, Patrick Williams and Nikola Vucevic.

He's spent roughly a month practicing with his new teammates, and DeRozan had some interesting observations about the Bulls, starting with LaVine.

"One, he works his (butt) off," DeRozan said. "He carries himself like he's 37 years old and he's very mature. I've got the utmost respect for him, how he carries himself off the court for me is always the big thing. You understand the talent that he has on the court, but off the court he's even a better individual. You can't do nothing but respect that and love to be around a person like that."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

On the team's chemistry: "Yeah, it's definitely been rolling. We find ourself being too unselfish at times, and that's good. We're going to continue to get better with it. It's not going to just happen in preseason. We're still going to have learning curves throughout the season but for the most part, the elements that need to be there are there."

On second-year forward Patrick Williams: "I didn't realize Pat talked as much as he does. I thought he was quiet. All these guys on this team I've watched play, whether it was in college or if it was in the league. For me, it just feels good to get to know them on a personal level and get to show my personality as well."

Finally, DeRozan was asked what he's learned about new teammate LaVine: "That he likes to golf. I didn't think he liked to golf as much as he do. And I don't think he's that good, but he talks about it like he's the next Tiger Woods or something."

• Twitter: @McGrawDHSports

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