Can Deng keep up early-season scoring pace?

Can Deng keep up early-season scoring pace?
December 30, 2011, 2:17 am
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The season is still young, but through the Bulls first two games, Luol Deng - not reigning league MVP Derrick Rose - is leading the team in scoring.

Now, thats likely to change - after Roses nine-turnover game against Golden State last season, he scored 36 points and with his pledge to be more aggressive after Mondays loss to the Warriors, the All-Star point will attempt to take out his frustrations on the Kings - but Dengs early-season contributions only illustrates how important the underrated small forward is to the Bulls.

The native of Sudan came under much criticism in the wake of his long-term contract extension and subsequent injuries, but after arguably the best campaign of his eight-year career last season -- in which he played in all 82 regular-season games -- he should garner more praise, which I did recently in a column on Dengs qualifications to be the teams secondary scorer.

Take a look at his outings in the season's first two games: Deng poured in 21 points (second on the team to only Rose's 22) as part of his clutch performance in the season-opening comeback win against the Lakers on Christmas Day, then followed that up the next night with a game-high 22 in the loss to the Warriors, where he was seemingly the lone Bulls starter not out of sorts on offense.

However, with the addition of shooting guard Rip Hamilton and power forward Carlos Boozers presence, where will Deng fall in the Bulls pecking order of scorers?

Chime in here on Bulls Talk at CSNChicago.com and share your opinion in the comments section below.