Luol Deng: One for all the British NBA fans to get behind

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In terms of Brits flying the flag in the NBA, there has not been much for fans on these shores to get excited about. 

Of course, the passionate, knowledgeable fans will have their favourite players and franchises, but it is always good to see someone flying the flag for the United Kingdom across the Atlantic Ocean. 

Chris Harris was the first player from Great Britain to play in the NBA back in 1955, then there was Steve Bucknall in 1989 but both players only lasted a season. 

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John Amaechi was the go-to guy for fans in the UK for five years as he played for Cleveland, Orlando and Utah, but his final appearance came in 2003. 

A total of 11 players eligible to represent Great Britain have plied their trade in the greatest basketball league of them all, but only one of them has been an undoubted success. 

Since being chosen with the seventh pick in 2004, Deng has become a household name with basketball fans throughout the world and gives British followers a player to look out for and get behind. 

Having spent ten years with the Chicago Bulls in their fruitless attempts to claim their first championship since Michael Jordan retired for the second time, he was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2014, but only lasted the rest of the season. 

Pre-LeBron James' return to Ohio, Deng started every game he played for the Wine and Gold, dropping 14.3 points per night and providing 2.5 assists.

Since joining the Miami Heat, he has been posting some of the lowest numbers of his career, but in recent months, a change of position has given the forward a new lease of life at the American Airlines Arena.

His average of 12.3 points per game is the lowest since his sophomore year in Chicago and his 1.9 assists per night are the joint worst throughout a single season in his time as an NBA player. 

His shift came about through unfortunate circumstances, but it has transformed Deng into one of the Heat's major threats. That was evident last night as he dropped 31 points against the Charlotte Hornets in Game One of their first-round playoff series. 

But it wasn't just a one-off. Since changing position he has dropped at least 20 points eight times and has been an influential figure in helping the younger guys in the locker room reach their potential. 

Chris Bosh's absence for Miami following the All-Star break saw Deng make the shift from small forward to power forward and he has been part of a team that has coped superbly without one of their two superstars. 

Along with the addition of Joe Johnson and the emergence of young stars such as Justise Winslow and Hassan Whiteside, Miami are many people's pick to be the surprise package in the east and challenge LeBron James and his Cleveland Cavaliers. 

But for British basketball fans, the re-emergence of Deng as a serious threat in the league is music to their ears. 

While many supporters will still have their favourite franchises, each and every NBA fan on these shores will have a vested interest in how the 2012 Olympian and his teammates are fairing in the postseason.

Miami Heat
Southeast Division
Eastern Conference
Luol Deng

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