I'll kill the suspense immediately: A lot.
The 6'9 forward is healthy, motivated by a new coach and is rounding out his offensive game to complement the current make-up of the Chicago Bulls.
Stepping into his seventh NBA season, it's clear Deng would like to quiet his doubters.
Deng has often been criticized for his lack of health, his lack of athleticism and lack of long-range shooting. But one thing no sane person would ever critique him for, is how hard he works. Coming into the NBA at age 19, Deng (as every rookie does) tried to do everything at once. He wanted to be whatever he could, but had no idea how to go from point A to B. In just two summers Deng drastically improved his jumpshot from inside the arc, found a way to establish himself on the boards and improved his defense to the point where his name on the gamenight roster, made his opponent breathe a sigh of annoyance and frustration.
Having long arms, good footwork and an understanding of how to avoid your opponent from reaching specific areas on the floor, is bound to give results, and Deng is doing just that. That's why the addition of head coach Tom Thibodeau is one of the most intriguing prospects of the Chicago Bulls off-season. Thibodeau is known for having elite defensive abilities in his strategy, with a tool like Deng out there, Thibodeau's toolbox is projected to be packed.
Deng not only provides defensive help. Often forgotten, Deng is a talented offensive player who moves well without the ball, and has a high percentage mid-range shot. Last season, he attempted a career-high 4.7 free throws per contest by cutting and moving his way into the path of the basket. With Carlos Boozer and Kyle Korver in town, Deng is now getting a chance to free himself from his defender, while not expecting to get double-teamed when he enters the lane. If the defense doubles anyway, there's a wide-open Boozer, Rose, Korver or Joakim Noah one pass away. In many ways, Deng will be the Bulls most important off-ball mover and creator. His movement helps throw the defense off track, which undoubtedly create lanes for Rose.
As mentioned earlier, Deng is a strong rebounder too. Twice he's averaged more than seven rebounds per game for a season, and this year he'll help Noah, Boozer and Taj Gibson own the glass. The Bulls are projected to be the best rebounding team in the league by a large margin, and Deng plays a big part in that. Having bulked up some since entering the league, Deng now takes contact without losing his balance, and this has gone a long way in establishing position.
Always the topic of trade rumours, Deng has survived them all so far and has now learned to focus on himself going forward. General Manager Gar Forman has made it known Deng can approach the Bulls front office if rumours continues to flourish, which should also indicate the Bulls are not looking to move him.
It's a common problem in NBA circles that a player loses credibility with the fanbase if he's involved in rumours on a consistent basis. This shows signs of an organization not being satisfied with that player, but in Deng's case, this couldn't be further from the truth. As a working franchise it's important to look for upgrades, and this year two names that came up shared Deng's position of small forward, and thus, Deng was the subject of rumours. But the Bulls understand his value to the team, and the important talents that he brings to the floor every night. There would be no joy in seeing him pack up his bags and put on a different NBA jersey.
For Deng, this season is a new beginning. He has a head coach who wants, and understands, how to use him. He's healthy. He's motivated, and he finally has a post player to play off of. Deng is becoming what he should have been a long time ago. An offensive third option who is the glue that holds the team together on both a defensive and offensive standpoint.