There is no question the Lakers are a young and unproven team. Their best player, D’Angelo Russell, will be 20 years old next season. They drafted Brandon Ingram who is still a teenager. They hired a promising coach in Luke Walton who will be entering his first year as a head coach of a team.
The Lakers need leadership and stability on the court next season, and Luol Deng can provide that for them.
It was a surprise to most people when the Lakers signed Luol Deng to a four-year, $72 million deal. The deal seemed to be an expensive one for a declining 31-year-old player. And Deng is not the same player as he was when he played for Chicago.
During his prime years with the Bulls, Deng averaged 16 points, 6 rebounds and 2.5 assists. Last season with the Miami Heat, his scoring dropped to 12 points, his lowest since his rookie season.
Although Deng’s scoring and knees have declined slightly for the worst, there is still one valuable trait that remained constant over the years: leadership. Deng is one of the most well-liked players in the NBA. When the news broke out that he had signed with the Lakers, Miami Heat fans showed their support and appreciation for Deng in a Reddit thread.
Throughout his long NBA experience, Deng has played under great coaches in Tom Thibodeau and Erik Spoelstra. Deng can provide a desperately needed mentorship role for the Lakers on and off the court.
On the court, Deng provides much-needed versatility and depth for the Lakers’ offense. Throughout his career, Deng frequently played the small forward position.
Last year from the Miami Heat, he played power forward position as a stretch four big, a role he proved to be a successful player in. He can be someone Ingram can look up to and pattern his game after, especially with both players being alums of Duke University.
The Lakers will have more than a few bumps on the road next season. There will be times when they will get rattled and pressured on the court. Deng would provide that experienced and stability in those times of uneasiness. He can be someone that Luke Walton can look at as a second coach on the court.
Off the court, Deng can be an exemplary professional for the young players on the team. He can offer them guidance on how to take care of their body. He can be that mentor and teacher young players are not afraid to confide with on the road. Deng is already an ambassador for his home country of Sudan. He created the Luol Deng Foundation:
The Luol Deng Foundation is a non-profit organization that uses basketball as a tool to give hope to those in Africa, USA and the UK. Our work in the three different domains maps out to the life journey of founder Luol Deng, with each region having developed him in a different but significant way on his path to becoming an NBA star.
He can be an inspiration for players to use basketball as a tool to make the people and community around them better.
The Lakers are more than just a basketball team; they are renowned and prominent organization worldwide. They are more than just basketball. So it makes a lot of sense why they liked Deng. He is already a global icon back in his home country and an international basketball ambassador for the NBA.
Deng should not be the Lakers’ primary option on offense or defense, but he should be the player the Lakers reside with for leadership and guidance. With such a young and inexperienced team heading into next season, the players and the fans would love Deng for his leadership, hard work and professionalism.