May 27, 2011
We're going to be doing plenty of talking about LeBron James(notes) and the Miami Heat in the hours and days and weeks ahead, so if you'll forgive me, I'd like to give a quick shout-out to Luol Deng(notes). He's almost never flashy or exciting, but he's almost always there.
Deng averaged just a tick under 43 minutes, 16.9 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game for the Chicago Bulls in the playoffs, after averaging 17.4-5.8-2.8 in a team-leading 39 minutes a night during a regular season in which he made all 82 appearances. Consistency's neat. He defended top-flight wings, he provided support in transition, he did as much as anyone in red-and-white to take some offensive pressure off Derrick Rose(notes) (which, admittedly, isn't saying a ton) — he was the metronome-steady backbeat to a 62-win season that we're probably all underselling a little bit right now (understandably so).
He can't be your best player, he probably can't be your second-best player, but he's a guy who can matter, and you know he'll be there. He ain't perfect, but there are an awful lot of teams in this league who'd kill for a guy like that. There aren't enough sure things in the world these days, and there are even fewer in the NBA.
Also, he kind of caught LeBron on Thursday night, although, if we're being honest, LeBron really caught himself by going for the chasedown block; if he just pulls up, Deng gets a not-that-big-a-deal breakaway. Still, it gives us a chance to say, way to be Luol Deng, Luol Deng. It was remarkably fun to watch you work this season.
International readers ("Int'l read'rs"): If the clip above isn't rocking for you, feel free to check out the dunk elsewhere, thanks to The NBA Nation.