Chicago Bulls: 15 toughest players in franchise history
We kick things off with a name that will be familiar to the younger Bulls fans out there. Luol Deng was selected No. 7 overall (selected by the Phoenix Suns then traded to the Bulls) in the 2004 NBA Draft out of Duke University. The 6-foot-9, 237-pound Deng was fast enough to play the small forward position but big and tough enough to also play the power forward slot.
This versatility is one of the reasons the Bulls selected him so high in the draft. Deng was a nice player offensively during his tenure with the Bulls, but it was not what he was primarily known for during those 10 seasons.
While he averaged 16.1 points and 6.4 rebounds per game, he was best known for his defensive prowess. According to Basketball-Reference, his defensive wins share (an estimate of the number of wins contributed by a player due to his defense) with the Bulls was 32.7 — meaning throughout his Bulls career, he contributed nearly 33 wins due to his defense alone.
He also had a defensive box plus/minus (estimate of defensive points per 100 possessions a player contributed above a league-average player translated to an average team) of 1.0, including a 1.8, 1.7 and 1.9 in his first three years, respectively.
Those are very impressive defensive numbers and are a testament to just how scrappy he was and how much time and effort he spent on his defense.
His defensive toughness was enough to make him one of the best defensive players in Bulls history and enough to earn him a spot on our top-15 list.