Los Angeles Lakers small forward Luol Deng expressed his displeasure with the outcome of the 2016-17 NBA season. The two-time NBA All-Star vowed to come back next season with a different mentality and prove his doubters wrong.
“There’s a bitter taste in my mouth,” Deng said. “I just gotta come back with a chip on my shoulder. This year started to build a fire inside me. I don’t tell people a lot of times because I carry on not being as competitive, but I’ve got a lot of people to shut up next year.”
Luol Deng and Timofey Mozgov were the Lakers biggest acquisition last summer. The Lakers signed them to provide a veteran presence and mentor the young guys. Unfortunately, Deng and Mozgov failed to live up to expectations and unable to help the Lakers end their playoff drought.
2016-17 NBA Season – Worst Season of Luol Deng
The 2016-17 NBA season is currently the worst season of Luol Deng since being drafted the seventh overall pick in the 2004 NBA draft. In 56 games this season, he only averaged 7.6 points and 5.3 rebounds on 38.7 percent shooting from the field and 30.9 percent from beyond the arc. His stats clearly doesn’t match with the $72 million deal he signed last summer.
“I feel like I worked very hard coming into this season and continued to work hard,” Deng said. “It was just one of those, just the way the team was made up and having to learn so much, I had a hard time trying to be consistent in the system.”
From a playoff contender, Deng is currently playing on a rebuilding team mostly consists of young players. He still has three years remaining on his contract which makes it hard for the Lakers to move him this summer. The only thing Deng can do is make himself fit and help on the development of the Lakers young core.
Will Luol Deng start next season?
In February, Deng lost the starting role to Lakers rookie Brandon Ingram. Coach Luke Walton used the final months of the season to prioritize the development of their young players. By the end of the season, Ingram showed a massive improvement on both ends of the floor.
As of now, it is early to predict if Walton will be using his usual starting lineup. Deng and Mozgov are surely eager to play again and prove their doubters wrong. However, with the improvements shown by the young players, there is a higher possibility that the Lakers will have different a starting lineup next season.
Photo courtesy: nikk_la/Flickr
Video courtesy: Youtube/DownToBuck