The Memphis Grizzlies have been weak at the small forward spot ever since the trade that sent Rudy Gay to the Toronto Raptors, but this offseason, the Grizzlies have a chance to add a real impact player at the position.
Enter Luol Deng.
Deng has been one of those quiet stars in the league for a number of years. Deng is not a hyper-athletic forward who jumps out of the gym or makes every single shot he takes, but he is one of the more solid and all-around players in the league. He just does his job without all the drama.
Whether it is offense or defense, Deng can contribute to an NBA team in a multitude of ways. Offensively, Deng is capable of scoring from almost any spot on the floor, be it finishing at the rim, in the mid-range or from beyond the 3-point line. He is not going to be able to hit 20 or 30 shots a night, but when he is able to take shots on his own terms, he can be a really effective player on that side of the floor as he has averaged 16.0 PPG on 45.7 percent shooting in his career.
A lot of people do not recognize Deng as an offensive talent in this league, but he is regardless of how he gets his buckets.
Defensively, Deng has been revered as one of the best perimeter defenders in the NBA for years. Deng helped to anchor a Chicago Bulls defense for a number of years that was considered elite, and he does it with his toughness and great footwork. Deng does not back down from guarding any player in the NBA, as he is usually the one to guard the opposing team’s best scorer.
Deng utilizes his above-average lateral quickness and footwork to stay in front of his opponents and contests shots whenever he can, making it difficult for players to go around him and shoot over him. Not only does Deng play great one-on-one defense, but he also has great defensive awareness in terms of playing team defense, as he is always rotating and playing help defense for his teammates, which makes him a valuable asset on that end of the floor as well.
Deng could really step in and be a force for the Grizzlies, as he is able to score points in a variety of ways while still helping to maintain the team’s defense-first mindset. The Grizzlies would be very wise to target him during the offseason, and Deng would be very wise to listen to the team’s offer, as he could be the missing piece to a true championship contender.