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Chicago Bulls Offseason: How Luol Deng Can Take the Bulls to the Next Level

CHICAGO, IL - MAY 15:  Luol Deng #9 of the Chicago Bulls reacts against the Miami Heat in Game One of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2011 NBA Playoffs on May 15, 2011 at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
Brett KayContributor IIIAugust 10, 2011

This is the third in a series of articles regarding the Chicago Bulls and their development into a contending team in the NBA.

In the first and second articles, we discussed Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah, respectively. Today, we will discuss Luol Deng, and how he can take the Bulls to the next level.

Deng has long been a big question mark for the Bulls since he came into the league. Whether it was being afflicted with the injury bug, or plagued by bouts of inconsistency, Deng never quite realized his potential as an NBA player.

Last year changed all that.

He played in all 82 regular season games, as well as all 16 postseason contests. He averaged just under 40 minutes a game, although it seemed like he was on the floor for much longer than that in most contests.

Deng is a do-it-all forward, and his newly-found attention to defense was an absolute blessing for the Bulls last year. He was, more times than not, assigned to guard the opposing team's best player, whether it be a guard or a forward. He was given spot-up threes on offense. He was asked to create his own shot.

And despite being asked to do so many different things on the court, Deng delivered on all of them.

He successfully shut down plenty of the game's elite players over the course of the season, he knocked down his threes at a 34.5 percent clip, and he frequently beat his defender off the dribble, resulting in his own 46 percent field-goal percentage. On the season, he managed 17.4 points and 5.8 rebounds.

The best aspect of Luol's game, though, were the hustle plays that didn't show up on any stat sheet. He relentlessly went after loose balls, he kept his defensive assignment if front of him, redirected shots with his massive wingspan, and was oftentimes the leader of the bench unit.

 

How He Can Take the Bulls to the Next Level

With all that Luol did to help the Bulls last season, there isn't much he could really continue to improve upon, aside from his three-point shooting.

If Deng could manage a 38 percent clip or better from deep, he would be able to keep a man locked up on him at all times, freeing up lanes for Derrick Rose to drive through.

However, I believe that the best thing that Deng could do to help the Bulls is to take on a slightly lesser role this upcoming year. Now, I'm not suggesting that he be moved to the bench, but to play 40 minutes a night for another full season will definitely take its toll and leave Luol's tank empty for the playoffs.

The coaching staff ought to limit Deng's minutes at around 36. That way, he could still be productive on both offense and defense, but he wouldn't get fatigued quite as easily.

Although limited minutes would result in a drop-off of his statistical output on offense, he would likely play much more consistently. Defensively, the Bulls have a fill-in for Deng in Ronnie Brewer, so that aspect of the team's game would likely not change all that much.

But, of course, this is only my opinion. I could be wrong. 

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