CLEVELAND Bulls All-Star Luol Deng, the longest-tenured player on the team, is used to being utilized as a jack of all trades. Thats why on nights like Wednesday, when he struggled with his shot in the squads season-opening win over the Kings at the United Center, he doesnt panic.
Instead, he simply focuses on another weapon in his vast repertoire. In the victory over Sacramento, it was rebounding he snagged a dozen boards something he hopes to continue throughout the campaign.
I think I could help a lot in rebounding. I really want to focus on that. Last year, there were days that, with the schedule and everything, it was really tough, especially energy-wise, Deng told CSNChicago.com after the Bulls Friday-morning shootaround at Quicken Loans Arena. So, this year hopefully Ill have the energy and try to really focus on my rebounding.
Scoring will come. Its still early in the season. Im not worried about that at all. I will shoot the ball better, he continued. The first game is always the toughest, but its finding a way.
Deng could also be featured as a post-up scorer more, something displayed in the teams preseason finale, a win over Central Division rival Indiana. Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau has used the tactic sparingly in the past, but with Derrick Rose currently sidelined, showcasing Dengs versatility and using his 6-foot-9 frame against smaller defenders could work to the Bulls favor.
We did it some at the end of last year and I thought it was very good for us, so I want to try to take advantage of that more, Thibodeau explained. I want us to play inside-out. I think the more that weve done that, the more effective weve been.
Added Deng: I think it will definitely help me get to the line more also.
Being aggressive, getting easy baskets, but also getting to the free-throw line, especially when a team is in the bonus.
Deng isnt an isolation-based scorer, so even with the increased attention that will potentially be paid to him in Roses absence, he should still remain productive on offense. In addition to posting up, Deng has greatly improved his long-range shooting over the years, he has a potent pull-up game, crashes the offensive glass and scores in transition, but cutting off the ball has also developed into a real strong point for him.
When you cut the way he does, you can draw fouls and I think your team can take advantage of that because it gets you into the bonus earlier, so Ive been pleased with our ability to get to the free-throw line thus far and I want to continue to do that, Thibodeau said. Hes been around a long time and hes shown that each year, hes gotten better and better, and I think he and Rip have great chemistry together. Then, I think theyre understanding now, too, the more we play through the post and going to Carlos and Joakim, it sets up your cutting game even more effectively.
Luols added a lot to his game. Hes added the three-point shot, which makes people come up to him more and so, then he can put it down on the floor and now hes using his cutting to get into the post more, and hes a very good random cutter from the weak side, so he can score a number of different ways and thats sort of what his strength is, his ability to read how the game is going, what the defense is doing and to play off those things.