The return of Derrick Rose is the feel-good story of the year for the Chicago Bulls. After a pretty stellar run in the playoffs without their MVP, the Bulls are poised to emerge as one of the Eastern Conference’s top-tier teams. Tom Thibodeau boasts a solid core of young players, as well as veterans for leadership. Luol Deng is one of those guys alongside Rose & Co. with All-Star level abilities that have garnered Chicago’s recent success.
Unfortunately, Deng missed much of last year’s postseason with meningitis, nearly threatening his career. His averages of nearly 14 points and eight rebounds per game were sorely missed, as the Bulls were eliminated by the Miami Heat in five games. Entering into his final year under contract with the Bulls, many are hoping that Luol Deng will provide the Bulls more versatility, as the East has grown stronger in his absence. Health is always a factor for everyone in the league and Deng has been on the wrong end of some untimely injuries with wrist issues, knee complications and the aforementioned illness from last season.
The Indiana Pacers, New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets have all taken competitive steps forward. The Bulls will need all that they can produce in order to challenge the throne of LeBron James and the Miami Heat.
Deng has proven to be resilient through injury. A recurring wrist injury, which nearly cost Deng the 2012 playoffs, was not enough to keep him from displaying his timely scoring and defensive prowess. During the summer of that year, he even participated in the Olympics and came into the season showing little to no effects from injury. He maintained steady numbers at 15 points, six rebounds and a block and a steal per game despite some drop-off in shooting percentage.
There’s no doubt in the minds of Chicago Bulls fans’ minds that they will have their All-Star back at top form. His numbers are greatly missed and if history tells us about Deng, then it has to be known that there is no stopping the Great Britain native from contributing as a factor.
Coach Tom Thibodeau will likely be making sure that Deng is able to stay fresh for the duration of the season. With the emergence of young defensive stalwart Jimmy Butler, it will allow the Bulls to play a backcourt of Kirk Hinrich and Derrick Rose and rest Deng for a few minutes per game. Moves such as this will not stop the possibility of injury, but it will definitely work in favor of allowing Deng to have the extra gear when playoff time arrives.
A healthy Luol Deng will spell trouble for the rest of the NBA. He is one of the league’s best small forwards and added alongside Jimmy Butler will present much trouble for opposing stars on the perimeter.[slider_pro id="5"]