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Latest Laker: Luol Deng
The Lakers added a veteran leader to their stash of wings by signing two-time All-Star Luol Deng on Thursday.
The 31-year-old is coming off a strong postseason in Miami, where he served as the Heat’s third-leading scorer, second-leading rebounder and top 3-point shooter in the playoffs.
He put the NBA on notice during Game 1 of the opening round against Charlotte by scoring 31 points on 11-of-13 shooting, marking the highest-scoring playoff debut in franchise history.
Deng averaged 13.3 points and 5.9 rebounds in Miami’s 14-game run. He was particularly effective from the outside, and blistering on corner 3-pointers, as his 48.1 spot-up field goal percentage ranked second to only Klay Thompson’s 49.3.
On the other end, the natural small forward thrived while playing big minutes at power forward, as opponents shot just 40.1 percent when guarded by him — the playoffs’ seventh-best defensive field goal percentage.
"Luol is a versatile defender as well as offensively talented and is a high character individual who will be invaluable mentoring our young players on the court and in the locker room," General Manager Mitch Kupchak said in a statement.
The regular season was quieter for the 12-year veteran, who averaged his fewest minutes (32.4) and points (12.3) since his rookie year. Nonetheless, Deng tallied 13 double-doubles and really got it going post-All-Star Break, when he bumped his numbers up to 15.2 points and 8.1 rebounds per game.
Despite his scorching playoff shooting, Deng is not known for his outside game. However, the 6-foot-9, 220-pound South Sudan native is tough to stop when heading toward the hoop, as his 61.6 percent shooting at the rim stood 6.1 percent higher than league average.
Deng was selected by Chicago with the seventh-overall pick in the 2004 Draft. His nine-plus years with the Bulls were highlighted by All-Star selections in 2012 and 2013. He also led the NBA in minutes played for both seasons.
Capable of guarding positions one through four, Deng twice ranked among the league’s top five in defensive win shares with Chicago before being traded to Cleveland for 40 games in 2013-14.
Since then, he has played his last two years in Miami.
Deng shares a collegiate background with his fellow Lakers small forward, Brandon Ingram. Like this year’s second-overall pick, Deng played for Mike Krzyzewski at Duke, where he was named 2004 USBWA Freshman of the Year.
In addition to his on-floor contributions, Deng brings a wealth of experience to a young Lakers squad.
He has played in the postseason seven times and competed for Great Britain at the 2012 London Olympics. Deng holds a sterling reputation in the locker room and out of the gym, as he won both the 2014 J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award and the 2007 NBA Sportsmanship Award.
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