Central Notes: DeRozan, Allen, Mobley, Bucks

The Bulls have adopted an aggressive strategy to win right away, which made them a perfect fit for what DeMar DeRozan was looking for in free agency, writes Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic. Since last season’s trade deadline, Chicago has been pushing to build a playoff-ready roster, which included pursuing DeRozan even after adding Lonzo Ball. The early results have been positive as the Bulls are the NBA’s lone 4-0 team and the only unbeaten team left in the Eastern Conference.

DeRozan’s value was on display Monday night in a gritty road victory against the Raptors. With a large second-half lead in danger of slipping away, he hit a series of important buckets to close out the game.

“That was part of the reason why I even chose to come to Chicago, everyone was eager to want to be successful, to want to win,” DeRozan said. “Everybody had that chip on their shoulder from the city, to the organization, to the players that I spoke to. Coming into this season, that was everybody’s mindset. ‘It’s all about winning now. We’re not in a development stage. We want to win now.’ That was my mindset.”

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Jarrett Allen looked worthy of the Cavaliers‘ $100MM investment during Monday’s win at Denver, observes Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. Allen put up 21 points and 16 rebounds in a virtual standoff against reigning MVP Nikola Jokic“It’s hard to put in words, but Jarrett Allen has my full trust,” said coach J.B. Bickerstaff. “He has my full trust that what we’re doing as a team is more important than anything that could happen for him individually. And that comes from time spent last year, a lot of conversations, a lot of time over the summer.”
  • Cavaliers big man Evan Mobley is already a standout in a strong rookie class, according to John Hollinger of The Athletic. The third overall pick has been as good as advertised defensively while adding another perimeter threat to Cleveland’s offense. Mobley looks capable of becoming “The Guy” on a good team, which is something the Cavs had been missing, says Hollinger.
  • The Bucks believe last year’s title could be the first of many, per Jamal Collier of ESPN. With Giannis Antetokounmpo in his prime and a strong supporting cast in place, Milwaukee may be the team to beat for several years. “We definitely have a lot more confidence in ourselves,” Khris Middleton said. “It’s natural, we should. We are the champs. We’ve been through every type of situation you could go through. So at the same time, you know what to expect. There’s no need to worry about failing because you know what you need to do.”
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