Is a Luol Deng breakdown inevitable?

Luol Deng recently admitted he was planning to have surgery on the torn ligament in his left wrist…but then stated his rehab program had essentially solved any problems.

Said Deng: “I had the injury before (in 2004), and for some reason, maybe because it was my first time and I first had it, it felt a lot worse than the second time. The second time that I had it (last season), I asked the doctors a lot of questions.

“I never really lost any range of motion or strength, I just had pain. But as the year went on, I had my mind set on getting the surgery. As the year went on it just felt a lot stronger. I stuck with my rehab, kept doing my rehab, and til now kept doing my rehab and staying on top of it. It’s been good so far. I just got to continue with that and see how it goes.”

While it’s certainly heartening to hear the wrist “felt stronger” as last season progressed (despite a pretty obvious and progressive decline in his shooting stats) and that it’s been “good so far,” I’m worried.

Luol Deng has a history of injuries. And, under current Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, he has a history of logging an awful lot of PT. In 2010-11, Lu ranked fourth overall in the NBA in Minutes Per Game (39.1). Last season, he ranked first (39.4). He’s coming off back-to-back preseason games in which he played 37 minutes. Preseason games.

Yesterday, the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times and Daily Herald all published stories about how Deng expects to (and is expected to) carry the team’s workload with Derrick Rose out.

When asked whether he expected to see the same kind of longs minutes he has in the previous two seasons, Deng replied: I expect to play the same. My strength, really, since I’ve been in this league is conditioning. I’ve always been blessed to be able to play high minutes. You’ve just got to stay on top of the little things — getting my treatment, stretching. Just being ready for 48 minutes a game, I really prepare myself for that.”

When asked what he expects from Deng this season, Thibs said: “The same thing as last year and the year before — just about everything.”

TrueHoop’s Henry Abbott posted an article about how teams on which players log heavy PT (in the 3,000-minute range) tend not to win titles. And maybe, with Rose likely to miss most or all of the season, competing for a championship isn’t the Bulls’ main concern this season. But it’s something to consider.

Players need to be fresh to compete at their highest levels. Science has proven that athletes need rest and recovery to be at their best. And certainly overuse and lack of rest can lead to injury.

Maybe I’m worrying needlessly. Maybe as long as Lu gets post-game treatment and plenty of sleep in his off-hours, things will be fine. But minus Rose, the Bulls will be hard pressed this season. Losing Deng to overuse injury would be a real blow.

One Response to Is a Luol Deng breakdown inevitable?

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