By Carlos Nazario
A few weeks ago, the starters for the 2012 All Star game in Orlando were announced. It came as no surprise that Chicago’s own Derrick Rose was on that list.
Last week, the reserves for that same game were announced, and Luol Deng was on that list. It comes as no surprise to Bulls fans that Deng deserved the honor. They did, however, hold their collective breaths until it was official. Deng deserved the same honor last season, only to be disappointed at being left out.
Deng seemed to be Chicago’s best kept secret. The national attention went to MVP Rose, and the energizer bunny Joakim Noah, but no one really knew what was there in Deng.
Deng has been a solid player his entire career, and at times outplaying some of the perennial all stars. Coach Tom Thibodeau calls him the best defensive player on the Bulls. That is high praised considering the Bulls have the best defense in the NBA and have several really good defensive players.
Thibodeau’s coaching style has had a great impact on Deng. He felt Deng was settling on offense and not fulfilling his potential on defense. He pushed Deng and Deng has blossomed under Thibodeau. He is often asked to guard the opponent’s best offensive player and he has responded. Now he is getting rewarded for his work.
Deng must feel he needs to have an injury to make it as a reserve. Last season, he was having a breakout season, yet other players, who missed time because of injuries, such as Chris Bosh and Joe Johnson, made the squad. This season, Deng missed a few games because of a torn ligament in his non-shooting wrist, and he makes it.
It is good to have Deng accompany Rose as an All Star. The team with the best record should be recognized with more than one representative. Now that the game is almost out of the way, it is time to concentrate on the season and the championship campaign.