For the first month of the season, there was no doubt that Luol Deng had been the biggest disappointment for the Los Angeles Lakers. In the month of November, he averaged only 6.6 points on 33.1 percent from the field and 30.8 percent from three-point range.
The month of December, however, has seen Deng finally begin to come into his own. He has averaged 10.7 points on 46.7 percent from the field and 38 percent from deep and has scored in double-figures in seven of the Lakers last eight games after hitting that mark only six times in the first 20 games of the year.
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After signing a four-year, $72 million contract this offseason there is a lot of pressure on Deng to produce, and he’s finally showing why the Lakers brought him in. According to Lakers reporter Mike Trudell, Deng credited his improvement to getting more comfortable with the offense:
“I just think I’m getting more comfortable with our offense,” the 12-year veteran responded. “I still believe I’m going to keep improving and getting better. I’ve been in situations in my career where I’ve had slumps and struggles. I always stick with it and just keep working.”
Deng added that getting comfortable with his new teammates has played a role as well:
“I think part of it, too, when you’re with a new group (is to) realize what you can and can’t do,” he explained. “A lot of times at the beginning of the year, guys were kind of standing still. The way I play, I’m always moving, I like to move the ball. And I think we’ve shown at times how to play that way.”
With the Lakers getting off to such a good start it became easy to forget that much of the normal rotation has never played together. The additions Deng, Timofey Mozgov, and Brandon Ingram make the team more talented, but it takes time for everyone to become comfortable with each other’s tendencies.
For his part, Deng always maintained confidence that he would turn things around and head coach Luke Walton never worried about him either. Hopefully, he can continue this level of play as the Lakers return home hoping to turn things around after a rough month of December.