The Chicago Bulls 2012-2013 campaign has officially come to a close. Now that we are weeks removed from the end of the season and have had time to be reflective, it’s time to take a look back at the performances of the members of this Bulls squad and brief look ahead at the future. The following is the third part of a series of nine posts detailing this year’s squad. Each player is assigned a season grade based off of their performance on general preseason expectations.
Name: Luol Deng
Height/Weight: 6’8″ / 220 lbs
NBA Seasons: 9
Regular Season Stats: 75 games, 16.5 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 3.0 apg, 0.4 bpg, 42.6 FG%, 81.6 FT%
Post-Season Stats: 5 games, 13.8 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 3.8 apg, 0.6 bpg, 38.1 FG%, 40.0 FT%
Season Grade: B
As a whole, Deng’s numbers were solid but are nothing to write home about for a player making as much money as he is. However, given his health situation from the lockout shortened season it was expected. If you’ll recall last season Deng tore ligaments in his wrist but opted to forego surgery in the regular season to continue to play and help the team. By doing so, Deng never gave himself the opportunity to get healthy. Compounded with the league high minutes per game he played, Deng found himself in a statistically down year. In a calendar year Deng would have been able to get his wrist surgery during the offseason and (hopefully) be healthy by the time preseason rolled around. Unfortunately the 2012 Olympics were held in London which meant the British National Basketball team automatically qualified for the Olympics, an opportunity Deng was not about to let slip through his hands.
By skipping surgery this past offseason and given that he would likely lead the league in minuters per game once again and the possibility of injury, Deng set the expectation on himself that he would have a season similar to the 2011-2012 one. Deng proved almost everyone correct. In all major basic and advanced statistical categories Deng showed minuscule changes in his performance though he did continue to show he could defend just as well as ever (despite some injuries to his hip during the season).
I feel bad as Luol Deng’s grade for his performance this season is fairly loaded. As stated above player grades are assigned based on the general preseason expectations for each player and, this season, Deng essentially played the way many thought he would. But as far as overall season goes Deng is one of a handful of players that probably deserves an A+ for the fight and valor he’s shown all season. As noted above, Deng came into this season already at less than 100% and continued to go downhill from there as the season wore on. But rather than complain or take a night off for things as serious as a broken thumb (which the world didn’t learn of until much later in the season) Deng continued to persevere game after game. Even after a botched lumbar puncture during the playoffs Deng tried to work his way back onto the court as soon as possible. The man truly is Chicago’s Iron Man and, for his sake, I hope he can remain healthy moving forward.
There have been talks of Chicago potentially looking to move Luol Deng with the emergence of Jimmy Butler, but nothing has been confirmed nor denied thus far. As of right now it looks like Deng and his expiring contract will remain with the Bulls for at least one more season though things could change. My personal desire for Deng’s (immediate) future is that he finally opts for that wrist surgery he’s put off for over a year and that he takes enough time off to get fully healthy and prepared for what is hopefully a long playoff run next season.