As expected, news broke Thursday that Derrick Rose will indeed be attending his third consecutive NBA All-Star Game 2012, second as a starter. Understandably, Chicago Bulls fans are ecstatic they will get to watch Rose on center stage in Orlando, Feb. 26th.
Will Luol Deng join the reigning MVP in the Magic Kingdom? That's the hottest question in town. The answer won't be known officially until Thursday Feb. 9th, when the NBA All-Star reserves are revealed for both conferences on TNT, decided via the ballot sent out to NBA coaches.
Deciding whether Deng is deserving of such a distinction for the first time in his career? That answer becomes more clear after crunching Deng's statistics next to fellow Eastern Conference forwards, and listening to his coach and teammates talk about his importance to the Bulls.
Deng always brings supreme effort, evidenced by his averaging 38.3 minutes per game before the wrist injury, good for third most in the league. The former Duke Blue Devil is also as good a rebounding small forward as there is in the NBA, averaging 7.5 per game, second behind only LeBron James among East wing players.
Deng's multi-faceted offensive game allows him to put the ball on the floor, or spread the court with his range, chipping in 15.9 ppg as an integral part of the Bulls offense. In arguably his most important role on the team, the 6 foot 9 inch forward effectively uses his length and quickness to badger the Kobe's and LeBron's of the league, frequently drawing the opposing team's best player.
Take it from Derrick Rose:
"Lu is definitely going to make the All-Star team this year," Rose said after a win last month in Boston. "If he don't, that would be cheating man. It would be cheating for sure."
Tom Thibodeau relies heavily on the eight-year veteran, and never misses a chance to rave about the man who spent one season under Team USA (and Duke) Coach Mike Krzyzewsk.
"He's not overlooked by his coaches and his teammates," Thibodeau said last month according to ESPN.com's Nick Friedell. "We know how important he is to the team. And he does it night in, night out. Even the nights in which he doesn't shoot the ball well he still does so many things that help you win. He's done everything for us."
Bottom line? DON'T SCREW THIS ONE UP NBA COACHES!! It's a lay-up! And besides, All-Star forward Luol Deng has a nice ring to it, don't you think?