In this series of articles, I will provide a review of each player on the Bulls from this past year and give an insight or prediction for the following season. In this particular article, I will be discussing Bulls small forward Luol Deng.
Luol, or should I say "Gluol" Deng, is the ideal role player for any superstar. Not only can he put up about 18 points per game, but he also was the best defender on the team. Deng started every game this season and led the team with 39.1 minutes per game and an astounding 42.9 minutes on average in the playoffs.
Luol Deng is one of the most underrated players in the NBA and it showed during the beginning of the season, especially when fans begged and pleaded for Carmelo Anthony to be traded to the Bulls for the likes of Deng, Noah and some draft picks.
Anyways, Anthony was not traded to the Bulls and Deng quietly stayed, doing what he does best by modestly averaging 18 points and six rebounds, while also playing the most on the team and guarding the other team's best player.
The first high point in Deng's 2010 campaign came in the third game of the season, when he went off for 40 points against the Portland Trailblazers. In that game, Deng shot 14-19 from the field, including 3-5 from 3-point range.
The only real low point I could say for Deng were the first two games of the season. In those two games, he averaged 11 points and two rebounds. This also included shooting 30 percent from the field in those two games and being benched in the fourth quarter against the Pistons. The low point didn't last for long as the next game he scored 40 points.
My grades for Deng in his 2010-2011 campaign
Regular Season—A: What else do you want from the guy? He did exactly what he was supposed to do for the Bulls by playing great defense and was a reliable second scoring option for the Bulls. For an A+ rating, Deng would've had to score 20 points per game and be on the All-Defensive Team.
Postseason—B+: I was debating between a B or a B+ here, but I ended up giving him the B+ because he shot almost 41 percent from 3-point range. Deng had a bad series against Atlanta, but against the Pacers and Heat, I think he played really well. He averaged around 43 minutes per game in the playoffs, which was again, the most on the team. He also held LeBron to his lowest shooting percentage in the playoffs.
My predictions for Deng in the upcoming season
First, I predict that Luol will not play in all 82 games this season. My prediction is that he will play in the range of 70-75 and in that time Jimmy Butler will be relied upon greatly to fill the large shoes of Deng. We were so lucky that he was able to play in all 82 games and 40 minutes in each of them. This season, he won't have to play 40 minutes again because of the addition of Butler, but I think he will end up with some sort of injury that holds him out 5-7 games.
Second, I think Deng will average 16.5 points per game on 49 percent shooting and will shoot just a hair below 40 percent from 3-point range. I think some shots will be taken away from Deng this season, with the addition of a reliable shooting guard.
However, I think Deng will be very efficient with his shooting, getting close to 50 percent from the first time since '07 and close to 40 percent from 3-point range for the first time since '09. It's going to be exciting to see this balanced attack from the Bulls' offense. I think there's a possibility for each player on the starting lineup to be averaging over 10 points a game.
Lastly, Luol Deng will battle Gerald Wallace for the last spot on the 2nd All-Defensive Team. Last year, Iguodala took that spot, but if he moves from the 76ers, I expect that spot to be up for grabs.