Is it all Dengs' fault? Maybe not. Chicago's two previous coaches, Scott Skiles and Vinny Del Negro, who have split time on the Bulls sideline the past 7 years, ran the type of offense that crippled Deng's abilities. Deng gave hint to this matter in his postgame interview after dropping a career-high 40 points on the 3-1 Portland Trail Blazers last night in Chicago.
|Deng is averaging 21.2 points on the 2010 season|
“I think it's just a coincidence,” he said about the two Portland career-high performances. “We just shot the ball well. We moved it and shot it well. You're going to get shots in different places (in our offense), so you've got to be ready.”
That offense Deng is speaking is transforming him as a player and targeting a different skill set.
In the previous two offenses Deng has ran in his career in Chicago, he was limited. As the wing man, Deng's role had him running the baseline, keeping him close to the basket throughout most of every game. The proof is in the pudding. Before this season, Deng averaged almost 7 rebounds a game to go along with 15.3 points a game. This season however Deng's rebounding has declined to just above two boards a game. The upside is that he's on pace to average over 20 points a game for the first time in his career.
The underlying factor in Deng's transformation is Thibbodeau's offense. Deng explained after last nights 110-98 win over Portland that Thib's wants to keep Deng at the top of the key and around the perimeter, allowing him to take more jump shots and strong drives to the basket. Was it the right move? Deng thinks so, and who could argue after watching him go 14-19 from the floor (3-4 from long range) and 9-11 from the free throw strike.
Basically, Thibbodeau's adjustments have done two things:
1) Allow Deng more space on the floor to move more without the ball and get open shots
2)By getting the ball away from the basket, Deng is creating off the dribble and getting to line efficiently where he is shooting 81% on the season.
3)By keeping him away from the basket as much, Deng's rebounding numbers have dropped significantly. No matter. Joakim Noah has emerged as one of the best centers in the Eastern Conference averaging over 15 rebounds a game so far this season. And with Carlos Boozer expected back in a couple of weeks, Thibbodeau isn't too worried about giving up second-chance opportunities.