- Nick Friedell, ESPN Staff Writer
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As we get set for the Bulls season, let's take a closer look at each player on the projected roster.
Salary: $12.3 million
Role for Bulls in 2011-'12: Deng can be a secondary scorer alongside Derrick Rose and average 18-20 points a game. He can be one of the team's best defenders who continually draws an opponent's toughest matchup. If Deng does those two things, and stays healthy, coach Tom Thibodeau will be ecstatic.
What happened this summer?: Deng traveled all over the world. He spent some time in Sudan trying to raise money and awareness for the people in his native country and his foundation. He spent time playing for Team Great Britain in the European Championships. He worked on his game back in Chicago for a time and considered going to Europe to play during the lockout.
Best-case scenario: Deng not only does the exact same things he did last season, he becomes an even better three-point shooter and gives Rose another option behind the arc. Deng stays healthy and once again start in every game for the Bulls.
Deng isn't sure what his team needs to get past the Miami Heat this season, but he is confident the Bulls can do it.
"It's not one thing that I could point at," Deng said Sunday. "It's a lot of things. I think one thing we really didn't have last year is the experience of being there. I think a few guys had been there before, but the majority of the team ... we've never been there together. This year we got a lot of guys returning and just experience alone is going to play a lot into it. I think last year, with Thibs first coming in, with the stuff he was trying to introduce to us, everything was brand new to a lot of us. This year, we're expecting certain things, and he's already doing them. He's already pushing to have the mindset and do better than we did last year."
Worst-case scenario: Deng gets hurt. After such a great season last year, some Bulls fans may have forgotten about all the issues Deng has had over the past few years. Before playing in every game last season, Deng missed a combined 64 during the past three seasons. He knows the schedule is going to be tough, but he believes he can stay healthy for another season.
Bottom line: Other than Rose, Deng may have been the most consistent Bull last season. He delivered almost every time he hit the floor. Rose even said he would vote for Deng as the team's MVP. If Deng stays healthy, he should be on the verge of his first All-Star berth this season.
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