Basketball Milestones, Chicago Bulls, NBA, San Antonio Spurs, Toronto Raptors

As DeMar DeRozan Scores 20,000th Career Point, What Will Be His Legacy?

DeMar DeRozan will join a really exclusive club when he scores  his 7th point against his former team the San Antonio Spurs on Friday, October 28th. That’s because his seventh point will make DeRozan the 50th player in the history of the NBA to score 20,000 career points in the regular season.

If DeRozan averages 20 points or more again this season, it’ll be his tenth consecutive season in which he averaged 20 points or more. Despite that consistent stretch, five NBA-all-star nods, three all-NBA teams (2nd and 3rd teams), and month when he entered the league MVP discussions in 2021-22, DeRozan hasn’t been one of the league’s top ten players in any of the years he’s played in the NBA and that’s a concern.

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Scoring 20,000 is a huge accomplishment; being the top 50 of anything in the NBA means you’ve met a level of consistent excellence in a league full of excellence. What’s interesting about DeRozan is that he’s somehow reached the 20K plateau quietly — and I’m not sure if that’s a good kind of quiet.

Lack of Playoff Resume Holding DeRozan Back

For all of DeRozan’s accomplishments, he hasn’t made much of a splash in the postseason. He did team up with Kyle Lowry on the Toronto Raptors to go on a run to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2016, but hasn’t returned since.

In his last three seasons with Toronto, LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers stood in his way. After reaching (and losing) the Eastern Conference Finals in 2016, DeRozan and the Raps came up short in two consecutive second round playoff series in 2017 and 2018. Despite wanting to stay in Toronto, he was traded to the San Antonio Spurs for Kawhi Leonard over that summer. That Raptors team would go on to give the Canadian franchise its first NBA Championship in 2019.

Now on a good Chicago Bulls team, DeRozan has teamed up with Zach LaVine and a cast of younger players to find themselves in the middle of the pack in the East. The Bulls will end up winning 43+ games this season, but no one considers Chicago to be a true contender to win the Eastern Conference, much less contend for an NBA championship.  That’s according to anyone on ESPN talking about the NBA, the casinos taking bets at this site, and other experts and analysts.

How much is that on DeRozan? At the end of the day when you’re the basketball team’s star, it doesn’t matter; you’ll get the credit when you win and the blame when you lose. That’s especially true when you’re putting money down on a team or diehard fan.

Legacies Are Defined By Winning

What I’ve learned from watching the league over the last three decades is that the players that are talked about the most once their careers are over are the ones that have had deep playoff success. When the NBA Playoffs near, we always see Steph Curry and LeBron James, Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, Bill Russell and Hakeem Olajuwon appear on our screens.

Who we don’t see are players like Reggie Theus, Tom Chambers, Alex English, Mitch Richmond, Adrian Dantley and Dominique Wilkins. We don’t even see Carmelo Anthony, Allen Iverson, Jerry West or Karl Malone. All very good to great players that didn’t have playoff success.

That’s because these players like LeBron, Steph, Kobe and Bird didn’t just score thousands of points and make multiple NBA all-star rosters, but they led their teams deep into the playoffs and all reached the ultimate goal of not just one NBA championship, but multiple.

I’m not sure what DeMar DeRozan’s legacy will ultimately end up being and a lot of that is not under his control, but it’s clear he’s a great basketball player that the respect of his peers and players have a lot of love for.

DeMar had a chance to play with LeBron and Anthony Davis to form another big three in what would probably be Demar’s best chance at a title, but the Lakers decided to go with Russell Westbrook.

If history tells us anything — all those points won’t mean much if you’re not playing, hitting big shots and winning games in May and June. DeRozan is 32 years old, so he has a couple more years to make his run. History tells us his legacy will depend on it.

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