While playing mostly small forward, Los Angeles Lakers wing Luol Deng showed he might still have something left to offer the team if he earns some minutes this season, scoring 14 points on 6-10 shooting (while missing all three of his 3-pointers) in the 2018 NBA Africa Game.
Deng also pulled down 3 rebounds and 3 steals in 23 minutes.
@LuolDeng9 (14-points, 3-steals, 3-rebounds) and @JaValeMcGee (11-points, 4-rebounds) went to work at the #NBAAfricaGame pic.twitter.com/ZaOTZuSi1N— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) August 4, 2018
While it was just an exhibition game and it remains to be seen if Deng's play can transfer over to actual NBA games, Deng showed he can still get out in transition:
Luol Deng gets ahead and finishes for #TeamAFRICA! #NBAAfricaGame pic.twitter.com/UZNkoTF8d8— NBA (@NBA) August 4, 2018
Luol Deng steals a JaVale McGee pass and then scores on him in transition. pic.twitter.com/LEKGWMNujL— Trevor Lane (@Trevor_Lane) August 4, 2018
Deng also did a nice job getting to the basket in halfcourt situations during the game:
Luol Deng scores on McGee and Gallinari...are we sure he can't play anymore? pic.twitter.com/4UYgTdtJ9s— Trevor Lane (@Trevor_Lane) August 4, 2018
Most importantly, Deng also demonstrated he might have a bit of bounce remaining.
Luol Deng with the throw down on the follow.... pic.twitter.com/uHjrKKLAFW— Trevor Lane (@Trevor_Lane) August 4, 2018
Again, this is just an exhibition game and hardly definitive proof that Deng is deserving of the role and playing time on the Lakers that he's been outspoken in campaigning for this offseason, but if Deng can actually offer play like this in an NBA game -- again, a big if -- then he could actually be of some use to the Lakers as a smallball five should they opt to go that route.
And one of the guys Deng is (at least ostensibly) competing with for playing time, JaVale McGee, didn't fare quite as well in the exhibition. McGee scored 11 points (while making one of his four 3-pointers) and grabbed four rebounds but fouled out in just 17 minutes.
In an exhibition game. Amazing.
Anyway, here is the one three JaVale made. Let's all overreact and speculate he can be a stretch-five!
JaVale for THREE! #TeamWORLD #NBAAfricaGame pic.twitter.com/krmOHwS1ym— NBA (@NBA) August 4, 2018
For the millionth time, again, this is all just an exhibition game and not worth overreacting to. Still, in the dead of the NBA calendar when nothing else of substance is going on, it's worth checking in on some actual basketball.
You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.