Photo Credit: Keith Allison, Flickr.com
The Bulls made a transition to remain a top NBA team without Derrick Rose. Change has occurred by bringing in key players, namely Luol Deng to step up in Rose’s absence.
Deng started his Bulls’ career in 2004 as a defensive specialist. He wasn’t known for scoring 30 or recording triple-doubles. He didn’t even average 15 points a game in his first two seasons.
Deng was only credited for his defense exemplified by his career stats, 234 steals and 352 blocks. Not bad for a small forward. Deng had the tough tasks of guarding some of the best players today, such as LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony. Deng, selected as a member of the All-Defensive Second Team for last season, should be credited as the Bulls’ best defender.
During the past few years, Deng’s offense improved dramatically.
Deng has been firing on all cylinders this season averaging 17.3 points per game. Deng recorded 25 points, 14 rebounds and five assists in Saturday’s victory over Atlanta.
Deng also emerged as a leader. He’s not just the heart of the Bulls’ defense; he’s the heart of the team. As the longest tenured player for the Bulls, Deng’s nine-year career always featured him as the sidekick for others. Deng was never the man for the Bulls, but in Rose’s absence at the moment, he is.
He was named to the East All-Star team because of his season’s efforts. While some saw it as a surprise, Deng deserves it. He may not score 30 a night, but he exemplifies the deep-rooted basketball philosophy: Defense wins the game! As his offensive game improves, Luol Deng can be the threat the Bulls need on both sides of the floor.
*stats from NBA.com
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