In hindsight, I should have called this post “Deng Bang.” In a shorter, more recent hindsight, I should not have mentioned the alternate title, so that I could have used it at a later date when Deng goes off again. Ah well. The point is, Deng will go off again. The Bulls coasted on the sleepy Warriors Thursday, partly on the strength of Luol Deng, who led the team in points (26), rebounds (11), free throws (6-of-7), and guys named Luol (1). He’s averaging 2+ points and a trey more in 2010 than in ’09 and looks to wanna be startin’ somethin’ early in the season, despite looking like a vegetable in his first two games. After averaging 31.5 minutes and a .304/.538 / 0.5/11/2/0.5/0.5/1/3 line in his first two contests, he’s improved to 40 minutes and has offered up a .477/.781/2.2/24/6.4/3/1/1/2.2 line in his last five games. The most precocious among you will be quick to point out that the Booze cruise hasn’t returned to port yet and that Deng’s production, just as with Taj Gibson and Derrick Rose, will plummet in a few weeks. I’m guessing not. Deng lurks around the arc and chooses his drives carefully. Of the three Bulls previously mentioned, he’s the only one with an outside game and I suspect the two treys he’s averaging each game will increase slightly. I predicted a breakout season from Deng and we’re seeing the beginnings of it. Whether you own Luol or just want to own him, it’s time to look at him like a top 40 player in this league.
Here’s how the rest of Thursday shook out:
Derrick Rose – 22/3/13 in 37 minutes, but went goose egg from the arc. He averaged 0.2 treys last season, just under one this season, but he’s also attempting three more a game resulting in a significantly lower FG%. This isn’t a big deal now, but it will be when Boozer halts Rose from driving so much (Boozer: the Gadot of the NBA). Rose’s field-goal percentage is tolerable now at .455, but it won’t be if he drives less and relies on shots from farther out than 12 feet.
Keith Bogans – Averaging a career-high 1.7 steals per game. If you’re desperate for steals, you could do worse. Look at Ryder or Lohan. They were desperate to steal and they did much worse.
David Lee – Missed the start in Chicago because he’s still picking Wilson Chandler‘s teeth out of his elbow.”Nancy boy!” – 2009 Dirk Nowitzki UPDATE: Deely’s out two weeks with an infected elbow. Woof!
Andris Biedrins – It was all about rebounds and blocks with A’n Bie when you drafted him. He’s grabbing 9.3 rpg, blocking an underwhelming 0.7 bpg and no one is going to win their league with this guy on their team.
Reggie Williams – 7/1/1 in 15 garbage time minutes. If he’s barely good enough for garbage time, he belongs in your trash.
Chauncey Billups – 15/2/4. If you’d like to read more about Billups, please see today’s Add/Drop post later this afternoon. Little hint: you’ll have to do some scrolling down to find his blurb.
Ty Lawson – 17/2/5 in seven fewer minutes than Billups. I’m not sayin’. I’m just sayin’.
Lamar Odom – He grabbed a dozen boards (ho-hum) but shot a frigid 1-for-6 from the field and sat out the final 15 minutes of a close game. Chillax, bro. What’s that old saying? When the going gets rough, the rough stuffs its sorrow with nine pounds of Rolos and gummi worms. Yeah. I’m pretty sure that’s Odom’s Friday night right there.
Shannon Brown – In nine games, Brown has scored 13+ points four times (including a season-high 19 last night). He’s also scored five or fewer points three times. In both cases, his scoring has been dictated by whether his treys were going down or not. He’s tantalizing like a case of sideboob, but ultimately just as frustrating.
Yao Ming – Out a week. It’s his legs this time, not his feet. Look, if Betty White can be compelled to host “Saturday Night Live” on the strength of a fan uprising, what’s say we all start a similar petition requesting Yao remove his busted haunches and wear the j-shaped carbon fiber Cheetah prosthetic that you’ve seen amputee runners wearing? Yao seems like the kind of guy always aiming to please. A 7-foot-6 center who can run like the wind would be pleasing to me.
Dwyane Wade – Shot 2-for-12, missed all five of his three-point attempts and turned the ball over six times. It won’t be long until this poor performance is a distant memory though. Like the one involving the Heat winning 70 games this season.
Udonis Haslem – A season-best 21/10. I never imagined I’d say this, but “be more like Haslem, Bosh instead of ‘has-been Bosh.’”
Nate Robinson – Sugar Nate got on the floor for 11:27 in this one. That’s Doc Rivers’ way of saying, “vaffanculo.”
Shaquille O’Neal – Returned for the first time since late October to play 21 minutes, leaving a 5/7 line. Golf clap.
Ray Allen – Was 7-for-9 behind the arc. Just 91 treys away from the all-time career record and Reggie Miller was adamant in letting us know that he’s totally fine with this. Really. He’s cool. Excited, even. In other news, my ex-girlfriend just married a millionaire. Totally happy for her. Wish her the best. Definitely not hoping he gives her herpes.