DeMar DeRozan reaches 20,000-point milestone: What it means for his legacy


Chicago Bulls guard DeMar DeRozan became the 50th player in NBA history to reach 20,000 points during the first quarter of Friday’s game against the Spurs. DeRozan cemented his name in the history books, joining a list of Hall of Famers like Michael Jordan, Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in achieving the milestone.

  • DeRozan achieved the feat in 963 regular-season games, putting him on the lower end of the list of players fastest to the 20,000 mark, but ahead of players like Kevin Garnett (979 games), Chris Paul (1,092 games) and Pau Gasol (1,219 games)
  • DeRozan registered at least 1,400 points in nine of his 13 NBA seasons, scoring a career-high 2,118 points last season for Chicago
  • Abdul-Jabbar leads the NBA’s all-time points list (38,387), followed by LeBron James (37,144) and Karl Malone (36,928)

Why this is a big deal

The boiled-down, bottom-line determining factor in the sport is who puts the ball in the basket. The all-time scoring leader is the holy grail of individual accomplishments, and cracking the top 50 of the thousands and thousands to play in the NBA is special.

DeRozan told The Athletic he never envisioned reaching the 20,000-point plateau.

“I’d be lying to you if I tell you I thought that,” he said. “I really just think day-by-day. I don’t try to ever look too far ahead of anything because it may not come and you don’t want to set up pre-determined disappointment in yourself. And so I just try to do one thing at a time. And if that adds up to whatever it adds up to, I’ll be happy with that.”

How DeRozan reached this milestone

Bulls coach Billy Donovan admired DeRozan’s scoring knack from afar for years. But until DeRozan arrived in Chicago last season, Donovan didn’t know the depths of DeRozan’s desire to master his craft. That, Donovan said, is what has separated DeRozan.

“His workouts are incredibly meticulous. He is very, very detailed,” Donovan said. “He watches a lot of film. He watches a lot of NBA games. He works a lot on the mental preparation. I’ve been fortunate to be around some great players. Their routines may be a little bit different. But their mentality is very much on point. There is an incredible attention to detail and an incredible focus.”



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What this means for DeRozan’s Hall of Fame candidacy

DeRozan, 33, is already at No. 50 all time in points and will continue to climb that ladder. He has registered at least 1,400 points in nine of his 13 seasons, including the career-high 2,118 he scored for the Bulls during his renaissance, All-Star campaign of 2021-22.

Barring injury, DeRozan could finish this season 37th on the all-time scoring list, ahead of Hal Greer. If we want to get really wild and DeRozan repeats his output from a year ago, he could be as high as 35th, ahead of Gary Payton (21,813 points) and Larry Legend, the Celtics’ Larry Bird (21,791 points).

Where DeRozan ranks among active players

Stephen Curry and Chris Paul are immediately ahead of DeRozan on this list and still active, so predicting an exact landing spot for DeRozan is a bit of a guessing game. But this is the kind of air in which DeRozan, a five-time All-Star, is moving. As he continues to climb this list, the likelihood of his Hall of Fame candidacy grows.

The closest active player behind DeRozan is Portland’s Damian Lillard, who is 85th on the all-time list, with 17,643 career points.

“It’s a huge accomplishment. It’s a lot of points,” teammate Nikola Vučević said of DeRozan. “It speaks to consistency, him doing it for so long every night. It’s an impressive feat.”



Point taken: Bulls’ DeMar DeRozan on brink of joining elite scoring company

(Photo: Matt Marton / USA Today)

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