He is the heart and soul of the best defensive group in basketball!
Deng is the most important player on the Bulls' defense.
Derrick Rose may be the team's offensive savant, but Deng is the soul of the Bulls' defense. He always plays his hardest on that side of the floor and helps direct Chicago's zone.
It's no accident that the Bulls have both the Eastern Conference's top record and its best defense. And Deng is the critical reason for both, which makes him the Defensive Player of the Year.
After all, which other contender has a greater impact on a better defense? Igoudala is the captain of Philadelphia's formidable defense, but he has more help; Evan Turner and Thaddeus Young are also very good wing defenders. Deng has Ronnie Brewer, but Brewer plays only 20 minutes a game while those two 76ers are 30-plus minute players.
Dwight Howard has arguably the biggest single impact, but he has not been able to elevate Orlando's defense to anything beyond above average this season. And Tyson Chandler is critical for the Knicks defensively, but Chicago's defense is still much, much better than New York's.
So Deng's contributions are not always as visible, but he is the key linchpin in the NBA's best defense, which is exactly what the award should recognize.
Deng is not only the soul of the Bulls' defense, but he is also its best man defender. He is tasked with guarding the opposing team's best offensive wing every night and usually shuts them down.
The Bulls got to their top record because their stingy defense prevents ball movement and stops penetration to the basket. Deng's man defense on the wing is usually the critical element of that success.
Playing through injury matters. No one knows exactly how injured Deng has been all season, but he is clearly not 100 percent. Still, he has struggled to get on the court and maintained his offensive and defensive efficiency.
In the process, he imbued the Bulls with his sense of toughness, grit and effort. No one else on Chicago's roster displays it quite like Deng, and it shows in their sterling record.
And that is why Deng should be recognized for what he is: the game's best defender in 2012.