Which player would you choose to ship out of town?
If you’re a true Bulls fan, you certainly wouldn’t want to deal either player. Remember, though, in this scenario, you have to trade one of them.
Both Deng and Noah are extremely important to the franchise and undeniably the two best players on the roster not named Derrick Rose.
With Rose—Chicago’s Alpha Dog and former NBA MVP—sidelined with a knee injury this season, Deng and Noah have stepped up and led the Bulls to a highly respectable record of 21-15. The Bulls definitely could be among the worst teams in the league right now without D-Rose in the lineup; however, the play of Deng and Noah has kept the team relevant.
The Bulls are playing stifling defense this season, holding their opponents to just 92.3 points per game (third best in the league), and you can give much of the credit to Deng and Noah.
Easily one of the game’s top perimeter defenders, Deng guards the opposing team’s top scorer on a nightly basis. The former Duke Blue Devil possesses the size, strength and speed to lock down the league’s biggest superstars every time he takes the court. He earned a spot on the NBA All-Defensive Second Team last year for his efforts.
Meanwhile, with Noah in the middle, opponents think twice before driving the lane versus the Bulls. He’s one of the top shot-erasers in the game today, currently ranking eighth in the Association in blocks with 2.1 per game.
And according to Ben Golliver of Sports Illustrated, Noah is the front-runner for Defensive Player of the Year.
While Deng and Noah are both outstanding defenders, they contribute on offense as well.
Deng isn’t capable of dropping 25 points a night like fellow small forwards LeBron James and Kevin Durant. However, he is leading the Bulls in scoring this season with nearly 18 points per contest.
Noah is averaging a decent 12.4 points and an impressive 4.2 assists (second on the Bulls behind point guard Kirk Hinrich).
If the Bulls were to trade Deng, they could possibly land a sidekick for Rose, who expects to return after the All-Star break. Memphis Grizzlies forward Rudy Gay is one player who comes to mind.
Nowhere near the defender Deng is, Gay would form an exciting duo with Rose, dazzling the United Center crowd with amazing dunks and reverse layups.
Would you trade Deng’s defense for Gay’s offense, though? You know Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau—a defensive guru to say the least—wouldn’t be ecstatic about that deal.
Perhaps another player the Bulls could get for Deng is the Sacramento Kings’ Tyreke Evans. Although the 6’6” guard has regressed since his rookie year, a change of scenery might be the only thing he needs to return to the scorer he once was.
A backcourt of Rose and Evans could turn out to be special in Chicago. However, much like Gay, Evans is far from an elite defender, meaning he wouldn’t be a perfect fit for Thibodeau’s system.
If the Bulls were to make Noah available, there would be several teams interested in acquiring the big man. There isn’t an abundance of quality centers in the league today, as there was back in the ’90s.
With that said, the Bulls would likely receive a plethora of offers.
It’s possible the Bulls could pick up the Kings DeMarcus Cousins in return for Noah. The third-year center out of Kentucky is immensely talented, but his immaturity often gets in the way. While Bulls fans would hate to see Noah pack his bags, Cousins would be an ideal sidekick for Rose—but only if he could get his head on straight.
So who would you trade—Deng or Noah?
Let’s be honest, the majority of fans would opt to keep Noah, who’s one of the most complete big men in the league. He can rebound, block shots, pass and knock down the mid-range jumper. He’s even an 80 percent free-throw shooter, which is quite remarkable for a 6’11” guy.
Don’t worry, though, neither Deng nor Noah will be dealt anytime soon; they’re too valuable to the franchise.
Stats used in this article are accurate as of 1-14-13.