This past summer the Los Angeles Lakers went out and made two big off-season signings in Luol Deng and Timofey Mozgov. While Mozgov has been solid for the Lakers, providing a defensive presence and a surprising offensive repertoire, Deng has been a major disappointment.
Deng has looked a step slow defensively trying to keep up with the best wing players in the league and his offense has been even worse. Deng is averaging only 6.6 points per game and it seems like almost all of his jumpers hit the front of the rim.
Despite his struggles, Deng refuses to force things in order to get his offensive game going according to Mark Medina of the OC Register:
“I can go out right there and tell myself to get 20 shots to get numbers. But I’ve never done that. I’ve always let the game come to me,” said Deng, who has averaged 7.4 attempts per game. “I know people may have opinions and be frustrated. But with me I’ve always been honest with the game.”
Deng added that he will continue to work hard and stay positive and ultimately things will turn around for him:
“I would never shortcut anything. I’m working harder than I have before and am trying to figure it out. Every day I’m in the gym trying to work it out. The main thing is staying positive. I know it’s going to start. I’m just being patient with the young guys and the team.”
Deng’s four year, $72 million contract is looking like one of the worst signings in the NBA this summer, but Deng remains a great teammate and veteran leader in the meantime.
Even if he never lives up to his massive contract, it is hard to believe Deng will remain this bad offensively. He is currently shooting 34.2 percent from the field, which is nearly 10 percentage points lower than his next worst year. At some point most would think it should even out.
The good news is that Deng has the work ethic and will do everything in his power to turn things around. Hopefully that comes sooner rather than later.