Luol Deng was the only member of the Chicago Bulls to participate this summer in the London Olympic Games. He represented the host country Great Britain, which had a basketball team in the Olympics for the first time since 1948.
While some may believe that it was wrong for Deng to play, I actually think it will help him and the Bulls in the long run.
With Derrick Rose expected to miss most, if not all, of the regular season, Deng is going to have to step his game up. In the Olympics, he got a taste of what it is like to be the main man.
While Team USA and Spain have rosters full of NBA players, Deng was the only NBA player on Team GB. In five games, he averaged 14.8 points, 4.6 assists, 5.6 rebounds and 1.4 steals, leading the team in most of those categories.
His best game came against the loaded Spanish team, which ended up winning the silver medal. Deng nearly tallied a triple-double, scoring 26 points, grabbing nine rebounds and dishing out seven assists in a 79-78 loss.
Deng also played pretty well against the bronze-medal-winning Russian team—also scoring 26 points—but Great Britain lost 95-75.
For those wondering, Great Britain did not play the gold-medal-winning Team USA during the Olympics. However, they played an exhibition before, and Deng scored 25 points in a 118-78 blowout.
Averaging nearly 26 points per game against the three best teams in the world is pretty good if you ask me.
Deng's Olympic experience will also likely give him confidence in his injured wrist. He was able to go out there and prove that his wrist was fine and surgery is not needed at this time.
He had this to say to K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune:
Did I look like I needed (surgery)? I'm fine right now. I feel great. There are a lot of things I want to improve in my game that I want to focus on. I want to be a better player than I was last year.
This is great news for the Bulls because being without Rose is bad enough. If they were without both Rose and Deng it could be a disastrous season.
It would be a tremendous boost if he can in fact postpone surgery until next summer or skip it all together. While entering his ninth year in the league, he is still only 27 years old and is entering the prime of his career.
Deng enhanced his reputation around the league. Perhaps general managers will make an effort to trade for him should he ever be available.
With two years remaining on his current deal, and a potential replacement (Jimmy Butler) already on the roster, it is unclear if the Bulls will re-sign him. If they don't, then trading him when his stock is at its highest would be the best course of action.
By avoiding surgery in the prime of his career, moving him at the trade deadline or next summer might be the time to do it.
On the other hand, if Deng reports to camp and is unable to avoid the surgery, then playing in the Olympics would look like a bad move.
What do you think, Bulls fans? Was Deng playing in the Olympics good or bad for the team? Sound off below.
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