FanShot

Coaches don't matter?

9

From the day he was hired as head coach in June, Thibodeau courted Deng as the team's "most underrated" player. Deng's days of being left to stand in the corners, waiting for the ball for two seasons under coach Vinny Del Negro, were over. He constantly is in motion now, his length and wingspan have been a perfect fit for Thibodeau's defensive preachings and Deng even remade himself as a 3-point threat. In 2010-11, he upped his total attempts from six previous seasons (327) by getting up 333; ditto for his makes, 101 through six years but 115 this season for a respectable 34.5 percent. And no one was on the floor more for the demanding, exacting coach. Deng averaged 39.1 minutes, fourth in the NBA, and was the only one in the top six who played in all 82 games. He is benefiting in the playoffs from off days between games. But when Bulls GM Gar Forman, at 7:30 on the morning after Game 3 in Atlanta, went down to the hotel workout room for some cardio, there was Deng, "stretching, taking care of himself."

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