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Deng over Lebron
In all the articles written on Luol Deng over the past year, there have been countless comparisons and analogies used to describe what he means to the Chicago Bulls, but it seems that none of them give him enough credit. If Derrick Rose is the heart of the team and Joakim Noah is the soul of the team, Deng is the skin—the organ that holds everything together.
Luol played more minutes per game than any other Bull last year—playing 39.1 minutes per game, which put him 4th in the NBA behind Monta Ellis, Rudy Gay and LaMarcus Aldridge. Deng averaged 17.4 PPG (third on the Bulls, 37th in the league) while shooting a .460 FG%, a .345 3PT% and a .753 FT%. Deng averaged 5.8 RPG (third on the Bulls, 69th in the league.) To round off these stats, Deng averaged .95 steals per game, .59 blocks per game and 2.9 assists per game.
Maybe the most telling stat of Deng's 2010-2011 season, though, came in the Eastern Conference Finals when the Bulls held LeBron James to a .447 FG% which was significantly worse than the .510 FG% he shot in the regular season—Luol played a big part in this, as he was most commonly the defender guarding James.
This offseason, there has been a lot of talk about trading Deng in order to get Monta Ellis and this would be a mistake. Deng was the sixth-best scoring SF behind Kevin Durant, Lebron James, Carmelo Anthony, Danny Granger and Paul Pierce, he was the sixth-best rebounding SF, the sixth-best assist SF, the 10th-best stealing SF, the 14th-best blocking SF and only one other SF played over 35 minutes per game and averaged less than two turnovers per game. You don't give up that sort of production and consistency for a second scoring threat, and that is all that Ellis would be for the Bulls.
I was not a Deng fan until last season but I now would choose him over any SF whose name doesn't end in James or Durant. Deng is signed through the 2013-2014 season and is scheduled to make $12,341,275 next season. He is as solid and consistent as they come in the NBA and there are only a handful of players who are worthy of the Bulls trading Luol Deng. Along with Derrick Rose and Carlos Boozer, Deng is a critical piece to the Bulls leadership on the court. If the Bulls were to lose Deng, they would be lacking more at the SF position than they did at the SG position this year.
Final note, although Deng's GB team was beaten out of the EuroBasket, the Bulls SF looked solid leading his home country. Another aspect of Deng that is overlooked is the leadership he provides.