Luol Deng did a little bit of everything in Chicago’s season opening victory over the Lakers on Christmas night. Quietly proving once again that he is instrumental to the Bulls success.
Deng had 21 Points, seven assists, four steals and the game saving Block on Kobe Byant’s last second attempt. While none of those numbers are other-wordly, it was the way in which he mounted them up that made it such a big performance. Timely buckets, clutch free throws, the game winning steal and block. Not to mention that Nine of his 21 Points came in the Fourth Quarter, many down the stretch.
Say what you will about Duke University, but there is no denying the fact that their basketball program and Coach K, specifically, turns out well-rounded, hard working players. Since he came into this league, Deng has been an efficient and fundamentally sound player. He works the mid-range game, slashes hard to the basket, follows his shot and smothers his man on defensive. The only knock on Deng, when he came into the NBA, was that his range was slightly limited. But, since his rookie year, he has worked hard on that facet of his game and added a few feet to his shot, regularly stepping out beyond the arch.
Obviously, Derrick Rose is the best player on the Bulls roster, he even has a trophy at home to prove it. And if you were to ask most fans, or players for that matter, they would likely tell you that Joakim Noah is the heart of that team. He brings the energy and intensity that the Bulls thrive off of each and every night. Then there’s last year’s big free agent signing, Carlos Boozer, who is supposed to be the second scoring option. So what does that make Deng?
I’ll tell you what he is. Luol Deng is the M.U.P., (Most Underrated Player). For somebody who works as hard, produces as much and receives as little respect as he does, Deng deserves some attention. We need to create an M.U.P. trophy, and start to pay the man his dues.
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