But after watching how Chicago has succeeded without him over the past three games, one might begin to reconsider how important he truly is.
The Bulls have gone 2-1 over the past week with Jimmy Butler picking up the slack as Deng rests his hamstring injury. Their only loss across that span was in overtime to a tough Grizzlies squad but they more than made up for that with wins over the Pistons and Lakers. Now, they'll be looking for their third Deng-less victory in a row with their Sudanese swingman considered doubtful for Friday night's game against the Warriors.
That's a shame too because they'll need all the offense they can muster against a Golden State team that will have no problem running with the Bulls.
The Warriors rank ninth in the Association at 100.7 points per game largely in part to their ability to make it rain from downtown (39 percent from three-point land). And those numbers could even rise now that Stephen Curry seems to have something still to prove.
The third-year Davidson product was recently snubbed of his first All-Star honors despite his averages of 20.9 points and 6.6 assists per game both being new career highs. Mark Jackson joked earlier this month that he'd hold his own All-Star game if Curry didn't make it but he'd probably prefer if his point guard took out his frustrations in a contest that actually counts.
Really though, this game will most likely come down to the gentlemen who stand a bit taller than Curry. Both the Bulls and Warriors reside in the top-8 when it comes to rebounds per game thanks to big-time ball wranglers like Joakim Noah and David Lee. Golden State is 21-3 when they manage to win the battle of the glass this season so that will be something for the United Center crowd to pay close attention to.
Time: 8 p.m. EST
Odds: Bulls by two