Coming into the 2012-13 season, Luol Deng showed his endurance by standing by his decision to not undergo surgery on his left wrist. Despite that choice, he showed he could still be efficient and handle heavy minutes.
For the second season in a row, Deng led the league in minutes played per game at 38.7. Coach Tom Thibodeau went with Deng for as long as he could because he continued to be consistent and reliable on both ends of the court. With averages of 16.3 points (team high), 6.3 rebounds, 3.0 assists, and 1.1 steals for the regular season, it’s no wonder why Deng would be relied on so heavily. Not to mention that he also remained one of the team’s best defenders.
Honestly, there is not much to say of Deng. He did exactly what was expected of him and was voted as a reserve on the Eastern Conference All-Star team for the second year in a row. Along with that, Deng also acted as a good mentor for the up and coming Jimmy Butler. And because of Butler’s breakout season, Deng’s play may have been overlooked. This is not to say that Deng did not perform well, but he had his flaws.
For one, Deng’s field goal percentage was 42.6%. While it is not a horrible number, it certainly could be better, especially for Deng. Though, it is likely that this could have been as a result of never undergoing surgery on his wrist. Last season, his field goal percentage was 41.2%, which is understandable with the wrist injury. But with all of the time that has passed, it appears that Deng’s shooting has not been able to improve too much.
During the playoffs, Deng’s field goal percentage took even more of a hit. In the five games, he shot 38.1% but still managed to average 13.8 points. On the bright side, he averaged 7.6 rebounds (second best on the team), 3.8 assists, 1.0 steal, and made Brooklyn’s Gerald Wallace work on the defensive end. Deng continued to show that he knows how make an impact and do whatever is necessary to help his team win.
Sadly, Deng was only able to play in five playoff games because of spinal meningitis. Initially, Deng was out due to flu-like symptoms. It was then discovered that he went to the hospital to undergo a spinal tap to test for spinal meningitis, suffered complications, and ended up in the emergency room for an extended period of time. As a result, he lost 15 pounds and was never able to do much activity at all. However, Deng made sure to support his fellow teammates even while in the hospital.
Deng posted the tweet after the Bulls’ win to open the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Miami Heat. Unfortunately, they were unable to achieve anymore wins following that. It is just too bad Chicago was not able to have Deng suit up and play for them. Even with the decrease in points, Deng’s presence surely would have been beneficial, as he has continually proved to be an efficient, reliable player.
Final Grade: A-