Followers of the Chicago Bulls know that head coach Tom Thibodeau has never shied away from putting big responsibilities -- and minutes -- on forward Luol Deng's shoulders. With Derrick Rose still rehabbing his way back from a torn ACL and Richard Hamilton out a few weeks after tearing the plantar fascia in his left foot in Saturday's win over the Philadelphia 76ers, Nick Friedell of ESPNChicago.com writes Friday that Thibodeau is relying on Deng all the more now to keep the Bulls afloat until reinforcements arrive.
Deng is currently averaging a career-high 40.8 minutes per game, according to the report, scoring 18.2 points per game and shooting 46.2 percent from the field while grabbing 7.4 rebounds per contest and dishing 2.7 assists per night. His point, rebound and assist marks this season are all above his career averages.
Here's Thibodeau on the do-it-all Deng, from Friedell's report:
"Lu has hit a lot of big shots over the last two years prior to this season so this isn't something new. He's carrying a little bit more of a load now, but Lu gives you whatever you need. If you need more scoring he can do that, if you need more defense he can do that, if you need ball movement he does that, movement without the ball he does that, so whatever you need he's going to provide."
Chicago, at 9-8 overall, is scoring 93.4 points per contest (good for 23rd in the league). But they are, per usual under Thibodeau, getting by with their defense, which ranks first in the NBA allowing opponents 90.9 points per night.