Luol Deng 8th best small forward?

According to Kelly Dwyer he is: (11-20) (21-30)

After a year or two in the wilderness, Luol finally got his wits about him in 2009-10, averaging 17.6 points and 7.3 rebounds alongside his typically sound defense. Deng also chipped in about a steal and block per game, and this is important: Luol came in at under two turnovers a game for the sixth time in a six year career. I understand that his mid-range, rarely-dribbling game doesn't see him taking many chances, but to be able to field a solid-scoring forward for nearly 38 minutes a game and see him turn it over just 1.9 times per? Good stuff.


It's funny,  so many Bulls fans have derided Deng for what he can't do.   That's what a massive contract will do for you though.   In the salary cap era, fans look at a player and decide how good he is based on what he makes, and when teams make decisions based on the salary cap, that's the most logical way to look at it.

Still, money aside, if someone told me in a vacuum that Deng is a top eight SF in the NBA, my first reaction would be "No way!", however, looking over the list of the top 11, I can't say I'm really taking anyone behind him next except possibly Rudy Gay.

Hell honesty, he's probably closer to Gerald Wallace and Andre Igudoala than the guys behind him are closer to him.   So while we may look at Luol Deng's contract and think "this guy is overpaid", let's not forget that he's also a pretty darn good basketball player who rarely screws up on offense (low turnovers) and rarely screws up on defense (very fundamentally sound).  

He chips in plenty of scoring without needing the ball in his hands all the time, makes smart basketball plays, rebounds well, and even gives you some blocks and steals.   I think the worst thing Deng ever did in regards to his rating to Bulls fans is take a 30% deferred salary deal.   Take the same present value money and stick it in a present value cap contract where he's making about two million a year less, and we wouldn't spend so much time complaining about his salary.

The only real downsides to Deng are a lack of health and a lack of volume in terms of three point attempts last season.  If Deng can improve his three point shooting enough to maintain a 35% while shooting three or so a game, then he becomes a near perfect fit for our roster.   Even without the three point shooting he's awfully good.

So let's take a few moments out of our ripping on his contract and injury history to appreciate the good things Luol can do for this team.


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  • The same guy rips Carmelo. He makes it sound like Carmelo is just a little better Kyle Korver.

    But that said, I think it is kind of accurate for Deng to be ranked that high and actually I would say he might be higher than Granger and Igoudola. That is not because of individual capabilities but they are supposed to carry their teams and are not really good at doing that and their overall value is less to their teams. But Deng is supposed to be the number 3/4 option on the Bulls, which fits his game almost perfectly except for a few flaws as you mentioned.

  • I gotta say Doug, I've been really impressed that you've been able to get an article (at least) out each day in the dog days of the offseason. As a fellow diehard Bulls fan who wants Bulls news 12 months a year, I think I can speak for many people in saying I appreciate you keeping this website updated all year round. Thanks!

    As far as the article, I take issue with Shane Battier being 24th. His stats aren't there, but as far as impact I don't see how you put Josh Childress, Marvin Williams, or Wilson Chandler ahead of him. You could even argue he should be on the level with Trevor Ariza.

  • In reply to HoosierBull:

    I second your motion of your first paragraph.

  • I like his place in the rankings and can also see why Kobe saw Deng as an asset for the Bulls. The one thing that makes this upcoming season so special for Deng's overall game is a balanced starting lineup. Deng can hit 3's with less pressure on him and that is what this starting five will do better than anything (take pressure off your team mates). Not only is this a very compatable starting 5, but it is also your "A" typical (built for the playoffs) kind of team. Deng's stock is going to rise this upcoming season because this team is really looking to prove they can play with the big boys (get out of the second round). This summer of R & R will do Deng and Noah a lot of good and it's obvious this team will come out of the gates strong next season. Anyone who has issues with Deng's game will see how fundamentally sound his game really is with Brewer by his side on defense and Boozer picking up some slack on offense. This is where team ball is reaally going to be fun for the team and the fans. This time next summer, Deng might move up to the 5 or 6 spot under TT's system. Let's all hope for the best.

  • In my post I meant 5 or 6 spot in the rankings of best small forwards.

  • I like Deng and I do agree that he is a smart ball player. I don't see him as one of those guys who forces shots, but as a player who takes the best shot available. I've never found myself yelling at the TV for Luol to "not take a shot" like i've done with Gordon, Hughes or Pargo.


    It should be for him to be considered better than Granger, Wallace, Pierce and Iguodala.

    He's never going to be in the LBJ, KD or MELO category.

    Can he reach that goal?

    I'm not sure. All I know is, unless he does the Bulls won't or can't win championships.

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    Maybe they should trade him for Melo. What do you think?

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    With the team that the Bulls have put together for this upcoming season, Deng will recieve far less criticism from Bulls fans than he has the past few. Winning will be part of the reason.

    But the main reason is that we will no longer have to rely on him to be our second option on offense, not even a third option, more or less just one of the other guys, which is what he really is and has always been.

    If he is the 8th best small forward it speaks more to the weakness of the position throughout the league than to his strength.

    I have always maintained that he was no better than the 3rd best player on a championship caliber team, and more likely a 4rth best player. His 8th place ranking not withstanding, that is what he will be on this years team.

    The Bulls roster has finally caught up with what Deng is. Rose, Boozer and Noah are more important than Deng. If Brewers defense is everything that it is supposed to be, by Christmas I might be inclined to prefer him to Deng also, especially at about 40% of Dengs contract.

    When Rose and Noah get their extensions, Deng will likely be the third highest paid Bull, behind Boozer and Rose but ahead of Noah, so relatively speaking he wont seem so over paid.

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    No, I don't think that should be Deng's goal since those players are option one on there teams. Deng won't have the opportunity to be better to them b/c the Bulls aren't EVER going to be "his team." No, Deng's goal really should be to keep doing what he is doing plus stay healthy and add 3pt range. That's all.

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    um, MELO is not in the category of LBJ and KD.

  • In reply to jpbaker81:

    Whoa KD won a scoring title lets not jump the gun here. KD is not in the class of one is. 2-time MVP. Melo and KD are on the same level. KD has the potential to be better than Melo but not LBJ b/c he doesnt pass as well or rebound as well.

  • In reply to mdot1986:

    Offensively KD is very close to LBJ. And Durant wipes the floor with Carmelo overall.

  • In reply to jpbaker81:

    stupidest comment ive seen in a while..not to offend you either.. but because lebrons in the same league as these guys doesnt mean you could compare them.. durant wouldnt live in cleveland or have any success like lebron..lebron brings more than scoring..passing and with bosh & wade he can get only better at playing off ball and pick and roll something only point guards and non ballhandlers do.. not superstars..lebrons in a different world then them..

  • In reply to Yunqn:

    I guess people hear don't realize how freakin good Kevin Durant is. Do some research, educate yourself.

  • In reply to Yunqn:

    *most stupid. or dumbest. stupidest is not a word, thus improper english

  • In reply to jpbaker81:

    crazy no one broguth up jr smith yet.. but everyone else is talking about him.. if he can get mentally checked than he's better than anyone the bulls been rumored to get as a sixth man or maybe starting two guard..

    15-17 points off the bench? watch some asshole say i dont want him because he's goina trouble rose.. like if this is a high school team with 17 year olds..

    jr smtih = jammal crawford of last year..

    we have no one to bring scoring off the bench or be a focal point..this is exactly like last guys just said we have quality depth with ok players..i love our starting lineup..i really do..its our second unit that people act like these guys arent human beings and dont get tired during the season..

    korver or taj isnt exploding off the bench..
    L.A, and all elite teams have that 6th man or are stacked on the starting lineup..

    we arent stacked on our lineup but with a talented bench we could make up for it..

    jr.smith & kendrick perkins..
    both are available..we have two - 3 future picks.. with omer & jj not really bringing nothing and bogans and thomas getting minutes that were given because of lack of talent not because of there own..

    why not pull the trigger for perk & smith..thats two starters..

  • In reply to Yunqn:

    You do know that Kendrick Perkins is the #1 center for Boston, don't you? The Oneal brother's are just holding his place until he heals fron surgery. Please tell me how this "pull the trigger" thing works because if it's just that easy, then why settle for Perkins and JR Smith? Why not "pull the trigger" and raid Miami or "pull the trigger" and hit LA for Kobe or "pull the trigger" for Melo or "pull the trigger" and bring back a 1988 version of MJ! I could get use to "pulling my trigger;" it feels good! lol

  • In reply to Yunqn:

    Perkins is available? Since when?

    Smith has attitude issues, I don't think it would be a good idea.
    Maybe you could give him a shot ... but it just doesn't sound like a good idea.

  • In reply to Yunqn:

    The Bulls had J.R. Smith for a minute there. He came with P.J. Brown in the Tyson Chandler deal. Never played a minute, and was traded six days later for 2 second rounders that ended up being Aaron Gray and JamesOn Curry. Something must have soured Pax on Smith right away, unless he just dismissed him on reputation alone. I would have liked to see Smith at least have a shot to suit up and see how he fit in. The next time he came to town with Denver, to my memory, he lit up the Bulls from the arc. I don't know if Pax learned anything from that...

  • In reply to jpbaker81:

    I was one of the people that complained about him being overpaid at the time he signed extension. But now, looking at his salary in relation to some of the other contracts being given out, I can't even say that anymore. If Rudy Gay's extension resets the market value for SF's - and Deng's numbers stay in 16-18 ppg and 7-8 rpg ranges - I'd have to say that Deng's deal is just about right. Most of theses cats are overpaid!

  • In reply to jpbaker81:

    Whoa KD won a scoring title lets not jump the gun here. KD is not in the class of one is. 2-time MVP. Melo and KD are on the same level. KD has the potential to be better than Melo but not LBJ b/c he doesnt pass as well or rebound as well.

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    A few things about Deng last year:
    1. He looked very good in the first quarter and would tail off in the fourth quarter. He just can't play more than 30/32 mins per game. Or he needs a big rest in the 2nd/3rd quarters
    2. The jumpshot which was so automatic a few years is not so anymore. I am not sure why...but hopefully he should improve on it this year.
    3. Obviously, we know about his 3 point issues. This is one area I guess he can improve even at an advanced point of his career
    4. His defense is great and I guess he never will bulk up to guard LBJ. But, I would be curious if Thibs can teach him techniques of what Paul Pierce did against LBJ. Defense wise, if Deng can equal Pierce of last year...that would be awesome.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    Deng is a way better defender than Pierce, and once TT teaches Deng what he taught Pierce... IT'S ON! And don't forget that Deng will have Brewer to help with LBJ on the weak side. And it's no mystery that this entire Bulls team is constructed to be a much faster version of the Celtics (or a Celtics, Bulls, Utah hybrid), and I still believe TT is holding a spot on the roster for Rahsheed Wallace because with a little rest and a triumphant return after the allstar break; he'll be happy to be in a system that works well with his game. This is only theory of course so don't think I know anything about anything because I'm just saying it because it sounds good to me....

  • In reply to hinton980:

    Please don't mention Rasheed Wallace and the Bulls in the same breathe ...
    That's one of the most hideous ideas I've ever seen in my life.
    The ultimate Cancer of Cancers on my team ... even now I can't stop the shaking ...

  • In reply to Silverwulf:

    They found a cure for cancer, it's called winning! He's matured a lot and hasn't caused trouble in years. A big man who can drop threes and draw big men away from the paint; if TT says go for it and the guy helps us win without incident are you going to hold his past against him? 3 rings and a more mature understanding of his role..... You'd really shake over that? And by the way, when was the last time you heard Rasheed has been causing trouble? Just asking because you poured salt all over my hypotheticals fries... lol

  • In reply to hinton980:

    This sums up my feelings towards Rasheed ...

    Note the parts about his 3 point shooting.

    Sorry, ... there was a day about a decade ago, when I was a Sheed fan ... he and Pippen kinda got screwed against the Lakers. And later I was slightly impressed that he didn't cause the Pistons to implode ... but that was a long long time ago.

  • In reply to Silverwulf:

    Thanks for the wake up call Silverwulf... By the time I got to character X, I knew it wasn't going to be a good thing. You are absolutely right; there is no cure for that kind of cancer....

  • In reply to Silverwulf:


    People can be in denial all they want, but unless Luol Deng turns into a top 5 SF in the NBA or the Bulls' management can package him in a trade for Carmelo Anthony, they aren't winning the NBA championship anytime soon.

    The Bulls just can't match-up (offensively) with Miami or the Lakers.

    This isn't a time for Bulls' fans to SETTLE for a Division championship.

    We should all want more than that from this team.
    That's the truth.

  • In reply to Silverwulf:

    I would have to assume this person is a Miami fan and if that is the case I can't take him seriously. I mean was putting LeBron's photo up as many times in one piece the real point behind writing this?

  • In reply to Silverwulf:

    If Loul is shooting at least three 3-pointers a game that will be crucial to improving his value to the Bull's offense. If Thib's team is showing a penchant for shooting 3's(more often from an anemic 1,000 to at least 1,350 to 1,400) from the corners and off double teams like good teams do then I'll be confident in his offensive grasp/coaching going forward.

    Off topic, but Regarding (Xavier)Henry(unecessary Harrison Ford reference), did anybody catch this bizarre interview sequence with a seemingly clueless Memphis Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley? No wonder they can't sign this kid. I don't know who the bigger d-bag is him or Chris(Jerry Buss' secret lover/Gasol gifter) Wallace.

  • In reply to Silverwulf:

    And this other story caught my eye as well. One wonders if Miami's "Big Three" will be short lived. Though as many point out a hard cap likely would not mirror where the soft cap is today, but maybe somewhere between it and the luxury tax say $63 Mil..? I sure would be in favor of shorter term gauranteed contracts from five or whatever to say two(three tops).

  • In reply to MarkNorman:

    sorry that's from five Years to two years.

  • In reply to hinton980:

    I've always been fine with Deng especially on the east coast, he has skills but he gets criticized for his contract, other than injuries he hasnt deserved the flack he receives.

  • In reply to hinton980:

    Big man Omer Asik finished with 11 points and nine boards in a losing effort

  • In reply to hinton980:

    Rasheed Wallace is good in spot duty but he misses a lot of 3 pointers at crucial times and takes a lot of ill-advised shots. He would be ok on a good shooting team like the Celtics with the big three but not on a Bulls team which is suspect in shooting.

  • In reply to hinton980:

    Rose officially just made the USA team btw ... not that that's surprising.

    Rondo being the final cut surprises me a little ... but I'm thinking that with Westbrook's better game offensively and his good defense ... along with Rose's improvement on Defense ... Rondo's strongest quality (as a defender) wasn't enough to keep him around when he has some glaring weaknesses (Outside shooting, too many turnovers, poor FT shooting).

  • In reply to Silverwulf:

    I think this just illustrates how a player can appear to be an all star in a particular system, but out of that system is just average. Rondo may be the poster boy of "system players."

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    Bottom line, Deng is your 4th best starter, & he is top 10 for his position & statistically, he post an avg PER higher than the player he guards. Same can be said for Brewer, our 5th best starter.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    I've had Deng anywhere from #7 to #9 ... so I'm just fine with #8 for him. And considering that Iguodala should have probably been included on the SG list, but when he wasn't, he was thrown onto the SF list ... he could bump up to #7.

    But a couple of points ...

    1. His contract. I realize it's never been a great contract, but considering the contracts of the guys above him on that list, Deng's contract has come pretty close to being in line with his value. Especially considering that there are a couple guys below him on that list that I think are making more than him ... Peja and Kirilenko come to mind. So maybe it's time to get off his back a little in that regard.

    2. But speaking of his contract. If it's not that bad right now, his ability to be traded should be better than ever. So the question is, if he really is the eighth best SF in the league ... and I think that he is ... do we really want to trade him.

    Considering that when I take Iggy off that list, Deng is #7 ... that means we have 6 options to improve our SF position.
    Lebron and Durant would be clear upgrades, but are not available.
    And in my opinion, Pierce, Granger, Wallace, and Gay are not nearly enough of an upgrade to even consider ... and most of them are not available anyways.
    So that leaves Carmelo ... is Carmelo as the #3 best SF in the league enough of an upgrade over Deng at the #7? I'm not sure that I believe he is. Considering the way that I think Deng fits our team right now, I'm pretty pleased to have him as our #3 option. Carmelo would obviously be have a talent edge, but I don't think it would be worth the trade right now. Deng has shown a willingness and ability to work on the defensive side of the ball and if that means that Thibodeau can get solid defense out of him at the SF position, I think we all might be very pleased with Deng at the end of the season.

    3. In my opinion ...

    Rose = #5 PG
    Boozer = #3 PF
    Noah = #8 or #9 C ... I go back and forth.
    Deng = #7 SF
    Brewer = #20-25 SG

    I really like the way Brewer plays, and I'm hoping he'll fit in well with our team and we can get the most out of him ... but if there's a position on our team that we need to upgrade, I think we need to look at our SG before anything else.
    There are very few options for upgrades at the PG, SF, C, and PF position for us right now, but it should be easier to find an upgrade at the SG position.
    At the end of the season, if everything has meshed well and we're playing the way I think we're all hoping we play ... maybe this will be irrelevant. But if after the season ends and we're still not ready to be championship material, I think we'll need to be looking at SG upgrade options before SF upgrades.

  • In reply to Silverwulf:

    you being smoking crack Rose five? he can easily be 2 or 3 he took rondo to school scoring 40 points and lebron had trouble guarding him!

  • In reply to Richy:

    1. Deron ... until Paul comes back at 100%
    2. Paul
    3. Nash
    4. Billups
    5. Rose
    6. Rondo
    7. Parker ... as long as he's healthy.
    8. Westbrook
    9. Evans
    10. Kidd

    It get's pretty muddled around the #8 spot.
    Rose is not a top 3 PG yet, no matter how you look at it.
    But I have high hopes for him becoming one either this year or next year at the latest.
    The talent and potential are all there, he just has to put it to work.

  • In reply to Silverwulf:

    i'm being telling you guys that we are fine with deng and that we have to focus on a realy good shooting guard to compliment brewer on the shooting

  • In reply to Richy:


    How are championships won?

    #1.) By having a DIFFERENCE MAKER on your team.
    #2.) By having a TALENTED SUPPORTING CAST.
    #3.) By having a SOLID BENCH and/or DEPTH.
    #4.) By playing TEAM DEFENSE.
    #5.) By staying HEALTHY.

    What are the Bulls lacking there? A real DIFFERENCE MAKER.

    Is Luol Deng a DIFFERENCE MAKER? Is Melo?

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    can melo defend like deng? can he assist other players? i don't think so mr.happy we need a Ray allen that come off the bench and don't mis a 3 that's a diference maker along with are defence!

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    Happy, I think you're pushing this Carmelo thing a bit too far.

    Points #2 through #5 are valid for just about every team that wants to succeed even just in the playoffs ... not just the championship.

    Yeah, you have to have a guy that's just better than the other team usually ... Kobe, Duncan, Shaq, Jordan, Hakeem, Magic, Bird ... it's almost always true.

    Carmelo isn't better than Lebron ... when we end up facing the Heat in a few years for the Eastern Conference championship, how is Carmelo going to be that "difference maker"?
    He's had his chances over the past couple years and I'm not really impressed with him. He's very talented, but I'm not sure he really wants it right now. By this point, he should be better at several key areas of the game ... and he's not.

    Our "difference maker" is going to have to be Rose becoming that good.
    Upgrading our SG spot, Noah expanding his game a little more, becoming a dominant defensive team, and improving our bench will also help us get there ... and faster than dreaming about Carmelo.

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    How many championships has Denver won, How many times did they make the finals.

    Seems like not much of a difference maker.

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    Deng has shot an almost 40% from 3 the last 2 years combined. He just needs to have the confidence to take more. An improved Rose, and Boozer down low should provide him the spacing.
    Deng is like a Scottie Pippen Lite, without the driving ability, ballhandling, & athleticism, in that he is a fill in the blanks kind of player.
    Often the criticism is made that he scores early & tails off. Well, you need points i the first quarter & half too!
    I've never really understood the criticism he takes. Maybe because some viewed it as either Deng & Gordon, and we took the less flashy, less mistake prone option. I think it was the right move. You will never win in the NBA with Gordon as your starting 2, and you can't pay the guy 11 mil to come off the bench.
    I don't care how much Deng makes. Its not like he has cost the Bulls from being able to go after a big time player as evidenced by this off season, the only player he cost us was Gordon, maybe Hinrick in the long run. We can move forward with Deng. He is a great citizen as well, and you can bet your ass he is taking the majority of his lofty contract & putting back into the community & helping out the less fortunate, especially with the work in his native Sudan.
    This guy is still young, & will develop some more. This year I expect over 1 3ptMPG, close to 40%, and that mid range will once again be a knock down shot. He will never be a guy who can create off the dribble, but he will score efficiently, but will not achieve 20 ppg this year only because his minutes will fall.

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    Actually, had we not signed Deng to his extention and let him walk, we would have had over $40 million in cap space this past summer, meaning we would have been in the discusion to sign Wade, Lebron and Bosh or Boozer.

    So while that never occurred to anyone 2 summers ago, he may have cost us the second dynasty. Unlike Miami we would have had Rose and Noah in place to fill in the 2 postions that the big 3 dont play.

    Who knows what would have happened under those circumstances.

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    Deng is going to look a lot better as a third option behind Rose and Boozer than as a second option.

  • I'm pretty sure I saw Purch stating that Kirilenko was better than Deng over on the RealGM forums ... so, yeah this might be cause for another tantrum.

  • I don't know. Do you think that Deng is top 40 in the NBA. I've seen various statistical analyses that seem to suggest that he is in the 70' or 80's which seems more reasonable.

    with 30 teams, top 40 would basically make him a second best player on any given team if the talent were spread out evenly.

    Even at 80 he is a 3rd best player on any given team.

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