Apr 5, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bulls small forward Luol Deng (9) dribbles against the Orlando Magic during the second half at the United Center. The Bulls beat the Magic 87-86. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

Chicago Bulls 2013 Report Cards: Luol Deng

At a position with the likes of LeBron James, Kevin Durant, & Carmelo Anthony, it can become easy to be unappreciative of what Luol Deng brings to the table. The aforementioned small forwards are among the elite players in the NBA, but enough about them. In regards to Deng, I’ve heard it all. He’s not explosive. He doesn’t handle well. He can’t post up. You can’t isolate him. He’s overpaid. He should be traded. So many times we as fans tend to focus on what a player can’t do that it is often ignored what certain players bring to the table.

This current core of the Chicago Bulls consist of Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah & Luol Deng. Rose is without question the teams best player. Noah is the emotional leader. So where does that leave Deng? Deng is the glue that holds this team together. The kind of player that isn’t an explosive talent or visibly enthusiastic, but you still need his services for a deep title run.

In the 2013 season Deng was named to his second All-Star team by the coaches, which is an indication that coaches around the league appreciate what Deng brings to the table even when some fans fail to. Deng often hovers around what his stat line was in the 2013 season. 16.5ppg, 6.3rpg, 3apg and a career high at the charity stripe at 81.6%. Acknowledged as one of the best defenders in the NBA, Deng covers and guards players ranging from shooting guard to power forward effectively. This makes Deng one of the rare two way players in basketball. However, the most telling stat of Deng is what he has led the NBA for two straight season. Minutes per game. Despite the increased responsibility on offense while maintaining his defensive intensity, Deng still led the NBA in minutes per game at 38.7. He does this often having nagging injuries that he plays through. To keep that kind of intensity for that many minutes in an NBA season shows true toughness.

Despite Deng being in the NBA for what will be his 10th season in the up coming 2013-2014 season, Deng is still just 28 years old. He’ll be in the final year of his contract next summer & it remains to be seen what will happen. A lot of it may depend on what happens at the end of next season. You hear some wondering if the Bulls should trade Deng due to the emergence of swingman Jimmy Butler, but that seems unlikely to happen given you can play them together as your starting wings. In an NBA where small ball is becoming the new trend, trading a two time All-Star who’s a top flight defender doesn’t make sense. Luol Deng is a gamer and it’s time fans acknowledge him for what he brings to the table.

Overall Grade: A

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