Luol Deng, Small Forward:
A longtime Heat nemesis, Deng has a chance to bounce back from a subpar 2013-14 season, that saw his soul die once he was traded to Cleveland (his field goal percentage dropped nearly 4% after the trade) before ending his season because of injury.
Unlike in recent years in Chicago, where the injuries to Derrick Rose forced Deng to try and shoulder the offensive load, he’ll be the third option behind Bosh and Wade. This should allow him slide into the same role that Bosh had during the Big Three era, as the guy that will be able to pick his spots on offense, which will allow him to stay fresh on the defensive end. Anyone that wants to say that Deng is a significant drop-off on defense than LeBron probably doesn’t know that Deng had a better defensive rating than LeBron last season, and three of the last four seasons.
But there is another perception that Deng has a lot of miles on his body, from playing under Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau. However, Deng has played 715 less minutes than LeBron has the last four years, which doesn’t include the playoffs, so there’s still some tread on those tires.
That’s not to say Deng’s minutes shouldn’t be monitored, considering that Wade will also miss his fair share of time. Keeping Deng fresh for the playoffs will be imperative for Erik Spoelstra if the Heat want to have success.