NBA Playoffs 2012: Chicago Bulls' Luol Deng Proves He's Not a Star
Luol Deng made his first All-Star team this year, and he is the player that coach Tom Thibodeau calls his glue. He made the team because Thibodeau pushed for his candidacy, but as Deng is proving this postseason, he's certainly no star.
A star steps up on the big stage, and Deng continues his role of blending in, rather than standing out. You would think with Derrick Rose going down with an ACL injury in the first game of the playoffs—and Noah missing, too—Deng would take it upon himself to step up into the leadership role.
If you call averaging eight points a game since Rose's injury stepping up, then Deng is a star. If you go by Webster's Dictionary's definition, Deng falls far short.
Descriptions include to be brilliant or outstanding and to perform as a star. Another is: an actor who plays a leading role. If Deng were an actor, he would fall into the supporting actor category, and he's not even doing well at that.
Paul Pierce of Boston is a star. When Rajon Rondo was suspended for a game and Ray Allen was sitting out with an injury, Pierce willed the team to victory, scoring 36 points—along with 14 rebounds and four assists—to tie their series one game apiece.
He went to the line 13 times in that game—making 11 of them—and followed that up with a 14-14 the next game.
Deng has been to the stripe four times in the entire series, making only one. The entire Bulls team only went to the line 14 times Sunday.
Shouldn't an All-Star be trying to make something happen, especially when the team's star is out?
Deng scored 19 in the first game with Rose. Without him, he has scored 8, 5, and 11 when his team has needed him most.
Instead of stepping up, he's been stepping out.
For those apologists out there, I don't want to hear about his wrist. In the previous 14 games he played before the playoffs, he scored over 20 six times and 19 once, so in half of those games, he was productive.
He's being paid like he's a star, so he should perform like one.
The funny thing about it is that Deng is exactly what he's always been. He's never been a special player.
Before Thibodeau came on-board and became his promoter, fans were clamoring for the team to get rid of him.
What's different about his game now? Really—I want someone to tell me.
Many times during his career, I would suddenly see Deng on the screen and say, "Oh, has he been in the game? I didn't notice him." That's been his modus operandi since he's been here.
He disappears, and you don't even know he's there, despite playing around 40 minutes a game. That's where my nickname for him comes in—The Invisible Man.
The Bulls are on the brink of elimination, and Deng does the same thing he does every game. He's consistent—consistently not a factor.
Once Rose went down, nobody expected a championship, but I don't think anyone expected the Bulls to lose to Philadelphia.
Philadelphia isn't winning this series. The Bulls are losing it. Philadelphia shot under 40 percent again on Sunday.
The games have been there for the taking. If only the Bulls had a star who could help them do that.
Deng may be the glue to the team, but he certainly isn't Super Glue.
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