New Los Angeles Lakers forward Luol Deng is the consummate professional whom teammates praise and coaches trust.
The power forward’s evolution in the modern NBA has made the position a safe haven for aging wings like Deng. Realistically, there are only so many big-bodied fours who could really give Deng trouble. The rest are right in his range: largely perimeter oriented but a step slower than the shooting guards and small forwards Deng checked for the bulk of his career. His positional shift last season in Miami worked to extend his career. Teams know what they can expect from Deng. Every defensive possession—even those that are ultimately fruitless—will be hard-fought. Every offensive task will be executed cleanly. There are clear limits to what Deng can do at this stage, though the reliability he brings to a system is an asset in itself. (Last year: No. 56)
+ Serviceable three-point shooter from the corners, though he seems to favor the right.
+ Consummate professional whom teammates praise and coaches trust.
– Plenty of wear, minutes and injury in his 12-year career.
– No longer a top-tier wing defender, though he gets by on savvy and effort.