DeMar DeRozan is averaging 8.0 points in the fourth quarter of games so far this season.

Why is that notable? A couple of reasons.

One, it’s when DeRozan, who currently ranks fifth in the league in scoring with 26.8 points per game, is doing the bulk of his damage. Two, it’s the most in the league by a not-insignificant margin.

The players closest to DeRozan in fourth-quarter scoring are Giannis Antetokounmpo (7.3), Kevin Durant (7.0) and Cole Anthony (7.0), followed by Jayson Tatum (6.8), LeBron James (6.7) and Zach LaVine (6.5). DeRozan has a higher true shooting percentage — a catch-all measure of shooting efficiency that combines field goals, 3-point field goals and free throws — than all but one of them. (You’ll never guess who that one player is… or maybe you will now that you know it’s the least obvious option.)

In total, DeRozan is shooting 54.2 percent from the field, 45.5 percent from 3-point range (albeit on low volume) and 91.2 percent from the free throw line in the fourth quarter of games.

That’s about as automatic as it gets, folks.

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NBA’s leading scorers in fourth quarter
RankPlayerPPGTS%
1DeMar DeRozan8.063.7
2Giannis Antetokounmpo7.361.8
3Kevin Durant7.058.8
5Cole Anthony7.067.5
6Jayson Tatum6.855.6
7LeBron James6.751.9
8Zach LaVine6.563.5
9Brandon Ingram6.154.0
10Damian Lillard6.154.9
11Paul George6.153.9

Anyone who’s familiar with DeRozan’s game won’t be surprised to hear that he’s done his best work from midrange down the stretch of games. He’s been particularly efficient from the short midrange, more commonly known as floater range.

If you’re not familiar with where that is on the court, it’s the area of green, which represents DeRozan shooting 10 percentage points better than league average, outside of the paint on his fourth-quarter shot chart.

(NBA)
https://images.daznservices.com/di/library/NBA_Global_CMS_image_storage/e7/36/demar-derozans-fourth-quarter-shot-chart_meiyyjess4pg1lc7f5jjsnia0.png?t=-577432723&w=500&quality=80

DeRozan doesn’t actually shoot many floaters when he gets that close to the basket. Instead, he relies on his trusty pull-up jumper.

Whether or not DeRozan is the best midrange shooter in the league today is up for debate — both Kevin Durant and Chris Paul would have something to say about that — but he’s certainly in the discussion. Few players score as often as he does from that distance, and he’s a tough matchup for most defenders.

Why? First and foremost, DeRozan is a big ball-handler at 6-foot-6 and 220 pounds with a 6-foot-9 wingspan.

His combination of size and length makes him a tough cover for guards because he can overpower and shoot over a lot of them.

It doesn’t help that he has a natural fade in his jumper, making it even harder for smaller players to disrupt his rhythm.

Even bigger defenders have a hard time getting a hand in his face.

Additionally, DeRozan has some of the best footwork in the league.

He does stuff like this…

…this…

…and this…

…pretty consistently, which he makes look easy but is anything but.

DeRozan is also a good passer. His numbers are down this season, but he’s coming off of a season in which he averaged a career-best 6.9 assists per game.

If teams load up on him, he’s more than capable of making the right play.

The most important thing for DeRozan and the Bulls, of course, is his fourth-quarter heroics are translating into wins. According to NBA.com, the Bulls have outscored opponents by a total of 77 points in the fourth quarter of games with DeRozan on the court. That’s one of the best marks in the league, trailing only a group of players on the Jazz, a couple of players on the Warriors and Hornets forward Miles Bridges.

His performance specifically in the clutch — the last five minutes of a five-point game — paints a similar picture, with DeRozan ranking near the top of the league in total points scored (51) and plus/minus (plus-22).

In other words, when it comes to winning time, DeRozan has delivered time and time again this season.

“I just attribute it to my hard work, honestly,” DeRozan said of his fourth-quarter explosions. “I’m a big fan of boxing, and I love watching a lot of guys figure out the fight early and kind of dominate later in the fight. They call it the championship rounds in boxing.

“I’m kind of big into that mentality late in games and understand that’s where it gets harder.

“So for me, figuring out ways to make it easier on myself and on my teammates, that’s the mentality I have late in the game, and it’s been helpful for me and my teammates.”

There’s a lot that goes into a player’s MVP case, but for DeRozan this season, it starts with that one key number.