Bulls

Tristan Thompson makes MVP case for DeMar DeRozan

Bulls

Tristan Thompson knows how to make an impression.

In his first session with local reporters since signing with the Chicago Bulls on Saturday, the veteran center checked off a litany of opening press conference Bingo boxes — fondly recalling the electric energy of the United Center during postseason matchups between the Bulls and Cavaliers, leaning into the 2022 team's championship-contender potential, and using phrases like "punch in that clock" and "workhorse" to describe his approach.

He also diverted a question about his relationships with players on the Bulls' roster to sing the praises of old friend, and new teammate, DeMar DeRozan:

"Right now, he's the league MVP in my eyes," Thompson said of DeRozan. "What he's been able to do with Zach (LaVine) out, with [Lonzo Ball] out, with [Alex Caruso] out, and, like, [Nikola Vučević] was out for a little bit too. For him to just be able to hold the fort down and keep that ship riding high, that's what an MVP does. That's what he brings to the table each and every night."

Indeed, DeRozan has been a steadying presence for the Bulls, who sit 38-21 and in a tie with Miami for first in the East, all season. He is one of just four players averaging at least 28 points, five rebounds and five assists. He leads the league in total fourth-quarter points. Before the break, he spearheaded a critical five-game win streak — as the team continues to soldier on without Ball, Caruso, and even LaVine for three games — with an historic scoring stretch.

 

Thompson has long respected DeRozan's resume, work ethic and skill level as a competitor, to the point he slyly compared DeRozan's midrange mastery to "another guy that used to play here a long time ago." (You know, that guy who wore No. 23.)

"Look at him, getting extra work in right now. See? That's what I'm talking about," Thompson said, gesturing to a still-dribbling DeRozan, who was the last Bull left on the practice court after Wednesday's session.

But now, Thompson is happy they're in the same threads.

"I'm just glad I'm here on the same side as him now," Thompson cracked. "Before we used to play in Toronto (when Thompson was on the Cavaliers), and I sent him to Cancun early (with playoff defeats). But now we can be with him on the same team."

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