With 24 appearances under his belt, his 26.4 points per game average ranks fourth in the NBA. His 7.5 free-throw attempts per game (which he shoots at 88.8 percent) ranks second. His 7.7 points per fourth quarter ranks first. And with the Bulls off to a 17-9 start and sitting second in the Eastern Conference, he's affected winning.
That's been enough to thrust DeRozan into the fringe of the MVP conversation, according to an early-season straw poll for the award conducted and disseminated by ESPN's Tim Bontemps. DeRozan landed sixth in the balloting, receiving two third-place votes, 11 fourth-place votes and 18 fifth-place votes from a voting body, per Bontemps, consisting of 100 media members — with at least two voters apiece coming from each of the NBA's 28 markets, plus national and international reporters.
Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Nikola Jokić and Chris Paul rounded out the top five.
Zach LaVine, who, averaging 25.8 points per game, is three spots behind DeRozan at seventh in scoring, drew one fifth-place vote, tying him with Joel Embiid and Donovan Mitchell for 12th.
DeRozan was actually asked about his potential MVP candidacy after a 109-103 win over the Knicks on Nov. 21 in which he notched 31 points, six rebounds and five assists.
"I'm gonna be honest with you, I've never once thought about it," DeRozan said then. "I think winning takes care of everything, and as long as we do what we're supposed to do on the court — winning — everything that you desire will come with it, and you take it as it comes."