The Cleveland Cavaliers have acquired Luol Deng in a trade with the Chicago Bulls. Earlier we reviewed the details of the trade and broke down exactly what the Cavs gave up for their new starting 3 man. Now we want to look at Deng’s fit on the floor for the team that desperately needs something productive out of that position.
Deng stands at 6’9″ and a solid 220 pounds. His arm length is almost legendary, though measuring at 7′. This season is Deng’s 10th in the year following 1 year at Duke. While he has struggled with some injury history, especially in the last few years, Deng has been the model of consistency when on the floor. He has always averaged over 10 points a game, topping out at almost 19 PPG his 3rd year in the league. He is currently matching that number on the offensively limited Bulls team. Deng has also averaged over 37 minutes a game in the last 5 seasons.
Deng’s fit on the Cavaliers starts with the simple fact that he is not Alonzo Gee or Earl Clark. Automatically he upgrades a position that may have been the worst in the NBA over the past 3 years. Deng’s shooting percentages have fluctuated over the past few years but for his career he is a 46% shooter. Much of that can be attributed to his ability to finish at the rim which this year is at 66%, via NBA.com. His 3 point shooting is adequate but calling him a 3 and D guy is an exaggeration. He is a career 33% shooter and down to 27% this year so far.
Deng’s defense is outstanding. Fear the Sword published an article on him this morning and two of their points really stood out:
- Clark and Gee have allowed 15.4 and 17.8 PERs to opposing SFs respectively this season, according to 82games.com. Their net PERs against opposing SFs are -7.3 and -11.9. Deng is only allowing a 12.8 PER against, and has a net PER of +4.9.
- Deng is one of the most active players in the NBA both on offense and defense. His 2.6 miles traveled per game stat places him tied for third among all NBA wings. Even though the Cavs’ effort levels have come into question in recent weeks, it is not something that should be a concern with Deng.
Its amazing to have his defense put into perspective like that with data. The fact that he has a positive net PER compared to either of our other starting SFs very negative net PERs speaks volumes to the upgrade he brings to the team. His miles traveled stat points to his minutes on the floor and activity while on the floor. Deng will lead by example on both ends of the floor.
Given all of that Deng will be a great fit for a number of needs on the team. He combination of slashing and shooting can pair with Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters games. His willingness to pass the ball and not let the offense go stagnate should improve that huge weakness on offense. His defense is top notch, locking down the opposing teams best wing player and setting an example for the team. His ability to play big minutes gives the team continuity between player groupings, and keeps Gee and Clark on the bench more. Coming from a winning team Deng is most likely to not allow the team to take nights off and coast as they seem to do.
All and all it looks like a win this season, barring any health issues, for the Cavaliers. What do you think about Deng’s fit on this team? Any concerns about adding him mid-season? Should the Cavs make any other moves?