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Why 38 won't be Luol Deng's career high for long

I've briefly mentioned this in comments before, but after Luol's career-high of 38 led the Bulls to victory last night I feel the need to reiterate how odd his offensive game is.

He got those 38 points on 18 field goals, with only 2 of those points coming on free throws and zero 3-point attempts. Deng hasn't shot many threes all season, and he doesn't get to the line that much, but on his career-high night you'd think a few more of those 'extra' points would be a part of the total. But if you're shooting over 42% on jump shots alone, these nights can happen.

Another fascinating part of Luol's scoring is that the Bulls rarely run plays for him. He gets opportunities in transition (especially for a pull-up jump shot), and is great making cuts off the ball, but you rarely see screens being set to free him, nor isolation plays. Part of that is the Bulls style of play, but it's also because Deng still has some developing to do.

And that's not necessarily a critique, it's more of a giddy projection. There was one play last night where Dan Dickau was (somehow) on him, and Luol quickly went into the post, turned, and scored. While Deng's range will increase as he spends more time in the league, his post-up game can be what would make him even more special. With this holy-grail-esque search for a guy who can score on the block, Deng has great size for a 3 (and if he fills out he could eventually play some 4), is smart, and seems to finish well with each hand. Why not him?

Developing a back-to-basket game can make Luol the type of go-to scorer that the Bulls can rely on, either to bail them out of poorly-run possessions, or to specifically run plays for. While it's great that Deng can fire mid-range jumpshots with tremendous accuracy, there are times when Gordon or Hinrich are off the court (or off their game) and the team needs Luol to create shots for the team. He's not quite quick enough (and definitely has ballhandling problems) to take opposing 3s off the dribble reliably, but a post-up game would be a great complement to his unbelievable shooting.

He's turning 22 next month, and the trade deadline talk from Paxson indicated how hard a worker Luol Deng is. It's going to be fun to watch the progress, especially when the unpolished version can shoot 18-25.