Like many other Bulls fans, I was taken by surprise when I heard about Luol Deng’s trade. The move was understandable with nonexistent contract negotiations, and his departure was inevitable, but I certainly didn’t expect it to come so soon. And that doesn’t mean it hurt any less when the news did break.
Deng spent nearly nine and a half seasons in Chicago giving the Bulls his all, but it was his last two months in a Bulls uniform that he, arguably, did his best work.
Before departing for Cleveland, Deng played in 23 games for Chicago this season, during which he averaged 19.0 points, 6.9 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.0 steal in 37.4 minutes.
Even with the midseason trade, Deng’s 19.0 points per game still led the Bulls at the end of the season. Derrick Rose was the second with 15.9 points per game, and he played even less games than Deng. In fact, it was D.J. Augustin who ended up being the leading scorer at the end of the season with 14.9 points per game in the regular season.
This has more to do with the overall scoring struggle Chicago had as a whole, but it also proves just how valuable Deng was to the Bulls. Yes, they still ended up striving without him, but that doesn’t discredit the contributions he did make. He was still an important part of the team, and that’s evident through his point average. Not only that, but it was a career high for him. His last one came in the 2006-2007 season when he averaged 18.8 points per game.
Really, Deng just continued to be the reliable player Chicago has come to know. He got the job done on both ends of the court, acting as a steady scorer, a tough defender and a leader in the absence of Rose.
His best string of games started with the Bulls’ 121-82 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Nov. 24 and ended with a 107-87 victory over the Miami Heat on Dec. 5. In that time, Deng averaged 26.2 points, 5.8 rebounds, 6.0 assists in 42.4 minutes through six games. He also shot 53.3 percent from the field and 38.1 percent on threes and never scored less than 20 points.
Overall, there wasn’t really anything negative about Deng’s performance with the Bull last season. If anything, the only thing to complain about is his three-point shooting percentage of 27.4 percent, but Deng has never been known for his three-point shot. At best, he’s a decent three-point shooter. However, his poor three-point shooting didn’t deter from the contributions he made to the team. He played a large part in leading Chicago, particularly after Rose’s downfall, until being traded away to Cleveland.
Final Grade: A