Hating on Luol Deng… for no good reason

Yesterday I was driving around the Chicago area and I happened to have on ESPN 1000’s “Afternoon Saloon” (featuring, amongst other personalities, former Green Bay Packer John Jurkovic — doing a WAY over the top “I’m just an average ShiK – KYAHH – Go-In” routine).

Yesterday the Saloon hosts spent a good deal of time discussing the state of the Chicago Bulls.  Generally they were optimistic about the team’s recent moves.  But the only player they really liked was the player they refered to as a “superstar”:  PG Derrick Rose.  They thought Joakhim Noah was okay, and to my astonishment, they heaped criticism on Luol Deng, calling him “disappointing”.

I knew from an analytic standpoint they were wrong, but just to confirm I did a quick Win Chart comparison of Deng and Rose.  You can view it by clicking here.  Not surprisingly, Deng is far more productive and valuable than Derrick Rose. 

So I figured they were simply viewing the game through the prism of scoring efficiency and usage.  I assumed they were penalizing Deng for not taking at least his fair share of shots, or for not making enough.  To my surprise, a Hoopdata motion chart comparison of the two players reveals that Deng’s usage is over 20% (22.3) and his scoring efficiency is much better than Rose’s (despite this Rose takes an asinine number of shots).

So it wasn’t a “scoring bias” issue.  What was it?  Perhaps the team does better when Rose is on the court than when Deng is on the court, and perhaps this was clouding their judgment.  So I checked Basketballvalue.com.

Again… not true!  The Bulls do much better with Deng on the court, and they actually play poorly with Rose on the court.

So what’s going on?  The only thing I can come up with is “Sebastian Telfair” syndrome.  The radio personalities were enamored with Rose’s “eye candy” qualities, things they did not get from the less-than-graceful Deng.

That has to be it.  Or maybe they’re just going by “who scores the most points”.   If they are, yeech.  Talk about unreconstructed.  That’s caveman shit, especially in the age of information.  It’s a pretty shallow, lazy way to analyze pro basketball, especially when you purport to do so for a living, and you are paid to do so in one of the world’s largest media markets.

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