Luol Deng was impressive for the Chicago Bulls in 2011-12, and he has been even better this season. The ninth-year forward out of Duke has stepped up and improved in a few categories, including scoring and field-goal percentage.
Deng is playing great on both ends of the floor. And for his efforts, he was recently named an All-Star reserve for the second straight year.
The Bulls, who’ve been without superstar Derrick Rose (ACL injury) this season, have surprised everyone, posting a 28-18 record and holding the third seed in the Eastern Conference.
While you can credit defense and Joakim Noah's All-Star play for the Bulls’ success, the team would be nothing more than lottery-bound without Deng in the picture.
There are a handful of reasons for him being better in 2012-13 than last season.
Deng has hit the offensive glass a tad better than he did last season. He’s averaging 1.9 offensive rebounds per game after pulling down 1.4 in 2011-12.
Also, his offensive rebound percentage went from 4.1 last season to 5.4 this season.
Deng has grabbed a total of 76 offensive boards thus far, just one shy of his total from last season, in which he played 54 games.
The Bulls rank ninth in the league in offensive rebounds, and obviously Deng is one of the main reasons for that.
He is currently fourth on the Bulls in assists this season with 3.0 per contest. And he owns an assist percentage of 13.3, which is a little bit better than last year’s percentage (11.7).
Deng has three seven-assist games so far this season. That’s pretty impressive, seeing that he only had two all of last season.
Deng brings a lot to the table, and the ability to dish the rock is one of his many qualities.
Deng is shooting 82 percent from the foul line this season, after shooting 77 percent last season.
In addition, he’s hitting 3.4 of his 4.1 free-throw attempts per game.
Deng sank eleven of his twelve attempts from the line in a win over the Boston Celtics back in December.
In the Bulls’ 25 wins with Deng in the lineup, he has shot 87 percent, and 74 percent in 16 losses.
Deng has played a major role in Chicago ranking seventh in the league in free-throw shooting.
Deng’s field-goal percentage has improved slightly, going from 41.2 last season to 43.5 this season.
According to Hoopdata, he is shooting about the same at the rim, 3-9 feet away, 16-23 feet as well as beyond the arc. However, his percentage from 10-15 feet has skyrocketed from 12.5 to 45.7.
Deng’s jumper off the dribble is much better than it was last season, as it’s obvious that he put in a lot of work during the offseason.
Heading into the season, everyone wondered who would emerge as the Bulls’ go-to scorer without Derrick Rose.
Deng has stepped up and been that guy, leading the team with 17.1 points per game, nearly two points higher than last season (15.3). While he isn’t going to compete for a scoring title, 17 points a night is rather respectable.
Deng has scored at least 25 points on five occasions this season, after reaching the mark just once last season.
He must love facing the New York Knicks, as he has averaged 28 points in three games against them, including a season-high 32 points.