Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Sweet Lu(ol)

Lets pretend that game against the Rockets didn't happen. And especially forget that I paid to go. Besides, if I would've known that Roche had already unknowingly sabotaged the Bulls effort, I wouldn't have gone. (Wear your lucky Bulls hat next time!)

But what I can't disregard was seeing Luol Deng go to the ground right in front of me after spraining his ankle on Yao's big foot. The Bulls have had a lot of things go right this season, and perhaps the biggest factor to their playoff push has been the lack of any significant injury. If Luol misses Friday's game at San Antonio, it will be the only time a Bulls player has missed a game due to injury besides Antonio Davis' 5-game stint on the IR.

Not that Deng's presence would've made much of a difference in the game that shall not ever be mentioned (although maybe he would've given McGrady some relative trouble), but it is hard to overstate the importance to the Bulls season and future.

For the season, just think of the carousel of crappy 3s that revolved in the United Center last season:

G Min eFG% PSA Usg RbR PER
Eddie Robinson 51 1024 0.483 0.99 15.6 5.5 11.0
Ronald Dupree 47 893 0.401 0.89 17.4 10.2 9.7
Linton Johnson 41 734 0.372 0.79 14.1 13.6 9.6
Scottie Pippen 23 412 0.425 0.9 18.7 9 12.4

(Jerome Williams also played at the 3 (passably), but he is a natural 4 and overpaid and couldn't shoot)

Compare with Deng's rookie season:

G Min eFG% PSA Usg RbR PER
Luol Deng 54 1510 0.461 1.00 21.0 11.0 14.7

Deng is already an upgrade over last year's fare as a rookie. Not only that, he leads the team in +/- (although Nocioni's limitations help that figure), and of course best of all he's young, cheap, and has a chance to be the starting small forward for the next 12 years.

With all the press going to Ben Gordon this season(not that there's no reason for that), it was cool to see Eric Neel single out Deng as his favorite rookie:

Seriously, 10 years from now he's only 29, and at 19 we're already seeing a complete skill set (top five among rookies in boards, dishes and points). Remember now, he's playing just 28 minutes per night (Okafor plays almost 36). Run his points-per-40 and you get about an 18-point money man, who can run the floor for you and run the floor for you, if you know what I'm saying.

People love Kirk Hinrich, and with good reason, but my guess is we'll be calling the Bulls Luol's team within two years.

(Couple that assessment with his mention of Knickerblogger and the Hollinger Stats (now that he's a colleague it should be happening more and more), and its obvious that Eric Neel rules.)

While looking at the present and pondering the future of a 19 year old who is already a starter on a playoff-caliber team, all I have left to add about Luol is: Get well soon.