2,070 minutes and counting…

According to the Basketball-Reference leader boards, Luol Deng ranks seventh in the NBA in both minutes played (2,070) and minutes per game (39.1). Deng has already exceeded his minutes played for two seasons (2004-05 and 2008-09) and is less than two games away from surpassing his minutes played for another (2007-08). His current MPG is a career high and he’s about 14 games from setting a new career mark for total minutes…

…assuming Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau doesn’t give him a break. Or that Deng doesn’t break down.

Check out his game log. Deng has played 40+ minutes 26 times. He has played 39+ minutes 31 times and 38+ minutes 34 times. He has logged 35+ minutes in 45 out of 53 games. He has played fewer than 30 minutes only four times this season.

For some perspective, last season, during which he set his career-high for minutes played, Lu logged 40+ minutes a total of 24 times, 39+ 30 times and 38+ 35 times. This season, he’s hitting those marks before the All-Star break.

Look, all I’m saying is, there’s a history here. A history of sprained ankles, torn ligaments, concussions, sore backs, injured Achilles tendons, stress fractures and calf strains. We’re talking about a guy who has missed 89 regular season games over the course of his career.

So, yes, when I watch him log 43 minutes and 37 seconds in a double-digit win against a sub-.500 team during a game in which the Bulls never trailed by more than two points.

For the record, I’m not just worried about this season or even this postseason. The effect of heavy minutes is cumulative. What about Lu’s health for next season?

15 Responses to 2,070 minutes and counting…

  1. bob.edwards47@yahoo.com'
    BoppinBob February 16, 2011 at 6:48 pm #

    I’ve been knocking on wood for the last month when I look at Deng’s mpg. I am remembering that he played for the British team during the off-season.

    After last night I am wondering why the Bulls sent JJ to the D-league. I was hoping it was to get him in game shape so he could play 10-15 minutes a game. It was distressing to see him get 1 minute in the Bobcats game. At this point by not playing him they are weakening his trade value.

  2. doubleaccord@gmail.com'
    Tony C. February 16, 2011 at 7:05 pm #

    While agree with the general concerns about playing time, I am tempted to adopt a somewhat contrarian position on Deng’s health. From my experience with Thoroughbred racehorses, I have found that more than a few athletes experience physical problems early in their careers, yet actually become sounder as they mature.

    I recognize that horses and humans are different in many ways, but in this context, I do believe that a correlation exists. So, with regards to Deng, as long as he is not played to the point of exhaustion, I do not expect him to be any more susceptible to injury than he was as a younger player. In fact, he may be less likely to be injured in spite of the high number of minutes played.

  3. Inception February 16, 2011 at 7:30 pm #

    this is why mgmt needs to acquire a player that can defend and shoot, so Deng can get some relief.

  4. jake_vick@hotmail.com'
    Jake in Minnie February 16, 2011 at 7:55 pm #

    I have tried in a few “chats” with Friedel to get him to answer the question of “what do the Bulls do if/when Deng misses time”? Always ignored, but he fields 20+ questions about SG. Well, If Deng gets hurt we have JJ and Korver to play the SF. Ouch, the drop off between Deng and either of those two (due to JJ not having his head on straight yet and Korver getting destroyed as a SF on D (I can live with him guarding SGs)) is quite large. If we lose Bogans, Brewer/Korver isn’t much of a drop off.

    Any ways, if the Bulls found a trade to get a back-up SF for Deng, I think that would be great. Otherwise, knock on wood that Deng (or Rose for that matter) doesn’t get hurt. And is probably a more important “trade” of need then upgrading SG.

  5. bullsbythehorns@gmail.com'
    Matt McHale February 16, 2011 at 9:32 pm #

    “After last night I am wondering why the Bulls sent JJ to the D-league. I was hoping it was to get him in game shape so he could play 10-15 minutes a game. It was distressing to see him get 1 minute in the Bobcats game. At this point by not playing him they are weakening his trade value.”

    Presumably, they sent him there so he’d be moving his ass playing basketball instead of sitting on his ass watching. And he averaged 19.3 PPG (53.5% shooting) to go with 8.9 RPG and 4.3 APG in 32 MPG.

    But I think the reality is this: JJ got on Thibs’ bad side (for whatever reason) and it is going to take a helluva lot to get out of that doghouse.

    “I have tried in a few ‘chats’ with Friedel to get him to answer the question of ‘what do the Bulls do if/when Deng misses time’? Always ignored, but he fields 20+ questions about SG.”

    Well, not defending Nick or anything, but the SG issue is a hot topic that’s fun to talk about. You can throw around ideas but, ultimately, the Bulls have been winning with Bogans at the two, so there’s not real “danger” there, per se.

    But if Deng goes down, the Bulls are screwed. That’s not to diminish the importance of, say, Boozer or Noah, both of whom have missed significant chunks of time. But Taj Gibson was a solid stand-in for Carlos, and Big Sexy is a wily veteran who can still contribute (even if starting him for 82 games would be ludicrous).

    But there is no way to replace Deng: his scoring, his defense, his intangibles. He does a little of everything and he tends to settle the second unit when Rose and Boozer are taking a rest.

    Simply put, there is no backup plan if Deng goes down. None.

  6. contrerasadvocates@yahoo.com'
    Savage February 16, 2011 at 10:06 pm #

    Lets stop talking about players potentially getting injured please. Just sends out bad vibes.

  7. gorditadog@aol.com'
    Gorditadogg February 16, 2011 at 10:19 pm #

    Good thing Lu is a Thoroughbred! Who is a better 2-way player than him?

    Jake in Minnie- You know, I always thought about how bad a defender Korver is at SG. I never thought about how bad he can be at SF too. We really need to pick our spots with him.

  8. jake_vick@hotmail.com'
    Jake in Minnie February 17, 2011 at 12:37 am #

    Was thinking about SFs on the trading block:

    and maybe trading Shane Battier:

    http://games.espn.go.com/nba/tradeMachine?tradeId=4adpyob

    Would cost JJ and Brewer…. Maybe the D league stint makes JJ attractive…and Brewer is decent enough…but maybe Houston has too many SGs as it is..

    Either way, acquiring Battier might not be a bad idea..or maybe Grant Hill

    http://games.espn.go.com/nba/tradeMachine?tradeId=47vmalp

    Either way, these two guys seem exactly like the type that can come in and spell Deng and if needed, could pull some starting minutes.

    And we wouldn’t have to give up much for them.

  9. inkybreath@gmail.com'
    inkybreath February 17, 2011 at 1:00 am #

    (Korver, at least, is a hustle player on defense – he gives effort.)

    Is there anyone we have in the D-League that can even be considered? I am still a JJ believer, but ….

  10. lukerygh@gmail.com'
    Luke February 17, 2011 at 3:55 am #

    Yeah, you can point to Deng playing this amount and not being hurt, and all the playing records he is setting for himself is… but the fact is that he hasn’t showed any real signs of it hurting him this year. Just because its happened in the past doesn’t mean it will happen this year. obviously thibs and the coaching staff are doing something right, because he hasn’t gotten hurt yet. I don’t think we should jump to conclusions.

  11. Jimmy February 17, 2011 at 4:29 pm #

    It would be interesting what trades we could get for Bogans and Asik for a SG and backup SF…I’m not saying I want to trade Asik, but I would like to know what combinations we could get offered.

  12. jake_vick@hotmail.com'
    Jake in Minnie February 17, 2011 at 7:41 pm #

    Jake (MN)

    If Rose gets hurt, Bulls season is over. If Noah or Boozer get hurt we know the Bulls can handle it. If Bogans get hurt, we can start brewer. If Deng gets hurt we can….. Do nothing. For that reason, shouldn’t the Bulls be looking for a extra SF before the trade deadline? Say Battier or G. Hill? would be perfect guys to come off the bench and spell Deng. Any Thoughts?
    Nick Friedell
    (2:29 PM)

    If the Bulls make a move I think it will be for a two guard. If Deng gets hurt, I’m sure Brewer and Korver would see some more time at the 3. Plus, James Johson may actually get a chance, at least that’s what Thibs said the other day when it came to possible injuries.

    I stand corrected.

  13. Luvabull February 17, 2011 at 8:06 pm #

    Korver plays most of his minutes at SF and Brewer plays them at SG. However, Brewer has the size and strenth to defend most SF so the Bulls do have coverage there. If Rose goes down, the Bulls would struggle to win games but more importantly, there’s no one behind Watson to take up the ball handling duties. Not sure if any one here will agree with me but after Rose and CJ, I think JJ might be our 3rd best ball handler and that’s a scary thought. That said, I would love to see JJ get more playing time and the game vs. Bobcats was a perfect oppotunity to give Deng some relief and JJ some playing time especially after his steller performance in the D-league.
    At least Thibbs is giving Asik plenty of opportunity. And Omer seems to be improving. I hope after Noah returns, Thibbs will continue to give Asik the minutes and rests Thomas to allow him get fresh and ready for the playoffs. We will need Thomas in the playoffs.

  14. Luvabull February 17, 2011 at 8:50 pm #

    Hey Matt, I would love to see you do a piece on Taj and Brewer. While the stars of the team are by far Rose, Boozer, Noah and Deng. The solid and steady play of Gibson and Brewer has helped greatly in the Bulls success this season. I would throw in Thomas in there as well but I don’t think Thomas would be able to pull it off for the entire season. He should get much deserved bench time once Noah is back.

    When I watch JJ play, (and Tyrus), they are incredibly gifted athlates but can’t seem to figure out how to play a team game. But I watch Taj play and while he is not an exciting explosive player, what stands out is that he does not make mistakes. He’s always working on both ends of the floor. Defensively he covers his man and is pretty good with help defense. Offensively, he sets screens, goes to the open spots if he’s needed and always around the rim available for put backs. And for a player that doesn’t have the athletic explosiveness of Tyrus or JJ, he manages to produce more than 1.5 blocks per game in under 23 minutes. He also seems to be improving his free throw shooting. Best of all he’s effective both comming off the bench or filling in for an injured starter.

    You can repeat a lot of the same for Ronnie Brewer, replacing steals for blocks. While offensively challanged, Brewer definitely impacts the game while on the floor with a key steal or a timely put back. In every game he makes one or two key plays to keep the Bulls in the game or help them win it.

    I don’t think you can ask for better role players than Taj or Brewer. Now the stars of this team have to step it up just a notch for the Bulls to get past other contenders in the playoffs.

  15. pc_eclipse@yahoo.com'
    Savage February 18, 2011 at 9:21 pm #

    Asik stays period. It is hard to find talent that big in the NBA. When he comes in the game I see good things happening. He has great hands knows how to rebound and does not get bullied down low. I would keep him over upgrading at the SF positions myself. His upside is looking very good. This is his first year in the NBA and he is handling it better than most thought he would. Keep him talented bigs are harder to find than SF position in my opinion.

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