Ever since coming off a sore hamstring in the first half of the season, Luol Deng has been disappointing to say the least. A second year all-star and one leading the league in minutes per game(39.1) for the second consecutive season, Deng still finds ways to contribute. There is no doubt that he is a valuable leader to this team. However, the proof is in the pudding. Avoiding surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left wrist is catching up with Luol.
Over the last month of games, any fan that was courteous enough to stick around and watch the games will tell you the same thing. Luol is grabbing his wrist after any contact made with that left wrist. His shooting goes flat, and his confidence when it comes to going after balls with that left hand is at an all-time low.
After injuring the wrist on January 21st of last year, an MRI revealed a torn ligament in his left wrist. A ligament tear that could not make things worse, as well as being linked to a number of athletes that ignore the damage in order to continue playing. Luol opted to skip the surgery, in a motive that was thought to be linked with Deng being an Ambassador for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Fans, while not all supportive of the idea, ultimately sympathized and understood Luol’s decision to forgo the procedure to honor a once in a lifetime opportunity.
You don’t need to be a Doctor to see the problem.
Let’s run a few numbers that are important to Luol’s impact on the game.
Pre-Injury(FGA/FGM cut at January 21st, 2012).
With Torn Ligament(After Return, 93 total games).*
What a staggering difference. But wait, you have a good memory and say it’s because he added more Threes to his game(Per Coach Thibodeau’s instruction).
With Torn Ligament. *
Luol’s Three point game was improving in 2011-12, but you can see an obvious difference this season compared to last. A 34% three point percentage since returning, but that is being brought down this season with a 31% 2012-13 campaign thus far. I do want to note, that Deng’s three point volume since Thibodeau was better than pre-Thibs, as he was a career 31% shooter. Thibs-era and pre-Injury, Luol shot 35% from downtown. Slightly below league averages(~36%), and above team average(~34%).
The dilemma Luol faces, is increased wrist pain and inconsistent play. The dilemma the Bulls face, is tying up a good portion of the salary towards Deng, who loses trade value for being inconsistent. When Luol is at his top form, he is within the range of his market value(slightly overpaid). Right now, it looks grim to assume he will be able to get back to that form without having something done about his wrist. The torch-and-pitchfork fans will not tolerate his shooting drops when running into luxury tax-hell for the next few seasons(and I don’t blame them). So Luo, please, I beg you, just do it. Do it while you can have the chance at being ready for 2013-14.
*All statistics accounted until the date of this entry.
Maybe we can get a twitter campaign and put this issue back into the spotlight.
Putting some pressure on the Bulls and/or Luol could make a huge difference in how far the Bulls will go next season.
Retweet this article, send your own tweet. Whatever it takes to remind the Bulls that we could waste Luol’s prime with poor shooting if this goes ignored. He deserves better, we deserve better.
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