CHICAGO – In his 13th season in the National Basketball Association, the guard enjoyed what some could consider his best season.

DeMar DeRozan joined the Bulls in a trade with the Spurs and averaged a career-high 27.9 points per game, started in the All-Star Game then was named to the All-NBA second team. He was even in the MVP conversation for a little bit as he helped the team back to the playoffs last season.

But still, there are those who doubt that DeRozan can pull off such a performance again as he now enters his 14th year in the NBA. Having that happen is commonplace in the social media world, but it’s always unique how some athletes choose to handle it.

So how does DeMar absorb the doubts from detractors?

“I always find humor in it. You always try to find reasons to be motivated. At this point, I have so many other motivational factors, that becomes laughable to me at this point,” said DeRozan when asked about doubters. “I always use whatever I can take. It’s kinda like free energy, and I indulge in it, and just let them eat their words whenever they eat it.

“It’s never my main focal point on driving me, but it does irk me here and there.”

One reason why DeRozan often brushes off the criticism is the faith in his own work ethic, which has helped him to a successful career in Toronto, San Antonio, and Chicago.

“Nobody knows or understands the amount of work that I put in, and I know for a fact that most of the guys in our league don’t work like I do,” said DeRozan. “So it’s just me knowing that part of it, I already know what you’re putting up is BS.”

He’ll need to have that work at a high level this year to help the Bulls take another step with their current core, which will already be without Lonzo Ball for a stretch after his knee surgery Wednesday. A number of Eastern Conference teams made significant improvements while Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley decided to stick with their group in hopes the develop.

“I love the competitive island that the East is on. That’s what brings the best out of you when you have the best around you, and you’ve got to compete,” said DeRozan. “For me, you put me in a room with the best, it’s going to bring out the best in me, and that’s the approach that we’re going to have to take this whole season.

“This is the toughest the Eastern Conference been since I’ve been in the league, and that makes it exciting. I can’t wait to get to practice tomorrow.”