When you think of the best forwards in the NBA, the names Lebron James, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant and Dirk Nowitzki immediately come to your mind.
Does the name Luol Deng ever formulate in your head?
And here's why: he is the most under-appreciated player in the NBA.
Luol Deng has been a consistent player throughout his career, but he continues to not receive the recognition through the media or from the fans.
The Chicago Bulls are currently in sole possession of first place in the Eastern Conference over the Boston Celtics and with their MVP candidate Derrick Rose on their roster, they are vying for the their first championship since the Michael Jordan era.
If the Chicago Bulls did not have Deng on their team, they would not be in the position they are in today.
Here are the five reasons Luol Deng is the most underrated forward in the league today.
Luol Deng has been a handful for opposing coaches.
Deng has the amazing versatility to either drive to the basket or to shoot the open look from beyond the arc.
It has been hard for teams to have one game-plan set for Deng because he can create so much havoc on offense.
If a team calls for isolation, Deng will make them pay by driving to the basket.
If opposing teams call for a 2-3 zone, Deng will make them pay by hitting the mid-range jumper or the occasional three.
Coaches have to pick their own poison when they are figuring out how to defend Deng.
Unlike some forwards in the game who pride themselves in the glory they receive on offense, Deng ensures his play on both sides of the ball are exceptional.
This year, Deng has been a dynamic force not only on offense, but on defense, too.
He has been an offensive weapon for the Bulls with his 17.8 points per game while shooting a respectable 45 percent from the field.
On defense, Deng is averaging 5.8 rebounds per game and he has been a thief on defense by having 67 steals on the season.
Deng is making players think twice about posting up on him as he is currently averaging one block per contest.
Last summer, Chicago was asking for the Bulls to find a suitor for Luol Deng as many felt he was not living up to his full potential.
If the Bulls were to listen to the majority, they would not be having the success story they are achieving today.
It would be hard to determine where the Bulls would be today if they did not have a consistent shooter and a reliable player on defense like Deng.
Would they be 51-19 good?
I highly doubt it.
A better question to consider is, would Derrick Rose be excelling at every aspect of his game if he were playing without Luol Deng?
Would we be discussing Derrick Rose as an MVP candidate if he did not have Luol Deng?
The former Duke product has been one of the reasons why the Bulls are serious candidates for being an NBA Finals team.
Luol Deng is having one of his best seasons to date and it is a shame he was snubbed for the All-Star game.
What is sad about all of the Derrick Rose hysteria, everybody seems to forget about one of the Bulls' key contributors to their success.
He is not a well-known player, but for those who follow this team religiously, they all the know the hard work and true grit Deng brings to the table every day.
Like Rose, Deng has not had the luxury of playing the full season with his whole team being completely healthy.
For much of the season, injuries have been like a domino effect for the Bulls: Down goes Joakim Noah, followed by Carlos Boozer, Derrick Rose, Taj Gibson and Carlos Boozer once again.
When the Bulls needed a player to step up during this crisis, Deng's play made everyone forget about the injuries that plagued their roster.