He is known as the ultimate weapon or the glue guy. He is coach Tom Thibodeau‘s do-everything type of player, no questions asked. He just goes about his business and produces whatever the team needs. That can be points, rebounds or defend the best perimeter player.
His name is Luol Deng of the Chicago Bulls. Remember this guy.
He nearly had a triple-double the other night as the Bulls beat the Utah Jazz, 97-73. He finished with a stat line of 19 points, 11 rebounds, nine assists and five steals for good measure. Deng needed a game like this not only for his personal confidence, but for the team as well. With the Bulls unable to establish any rhythm early on the season, Deng made sure they did not have a letdown against the miserable Jazz team.
Deng is very underrated and under-appreciated, even for a two-time All-Star. It’s not always about numbers and statistics with Deng. Coach Thibs loves to play Deng in a variety of ways. His natural position is small forward, but Thibodeau likes to play him as a stretch four at times to take advantage of his skill set.
Deng is a very good shooter from the outside, he plays hard all the time and he is one of the best slashers in the game, but he makes his living playing outstanding defense on the perimeter. He will guard whoever he is assigned to from LeBron James to power forward Blake Griffin. He has long arms and enough power to defend anyone.
So when headlines say Deng almost settled for a triple-double, fans should not be surprised one bit. The Bulls’ fans know how valuable he has been for years. That’s why it was a little shocking that the front office did not extend a player of Deng’s caliber to a contract extension. Whatever Deng does next offseason is another story, but he had to remind some folks that he can still be a threat this season.