Luol Deng sat in his typical postgame pose late Wednesday, his feet and lower legs submerged in an ice bucket, a copy of the box score floating on the water's surface for him to peruse.

Deng had just hit his second game-winning shot in overtime against the Raptors in 10 months. With newspaper deadlines rapidly approaching, he got told his words wouldn't be included in the story unless he altered another of his routines and talked to reporters before showering.

"I don't need to be the newspaper; I'm OK with that," Deng said, smiling broadly. "I never did this for fame."

So take what Deng said later, in a more relaxed and private setting, with context. He's not the boastful type.

"Personally, I really believe I'm a better player than last year," Deng said.

The All-Star starters were announced Thursday night. With Derrick Rose off the ballot following knee surgery, fans not surprisingly voted in no Bulls. But when reserves are announced Jan. 24, Deng, along with Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer, will draw strong consideration in coaches' voting to make his second straight All-Star game.

"When I play with Derrick it makes the game a lot easier for me," Deng said. "So without Derrick, I've worked on a lot of areas of my game. A lot of people will tell you my jumper off the dribble has improved. That's something I worked on a lot.

"It was a tough summer with the Olympics and everything. But I never wanted to come back and have people hold fatigue over me as an excuse. I spent all summer working on my game like I was a rookie in this league."

Deng is averaging 17.8 points, 6.5 rebounds and 3 assists in 40.2 minutes per game. All averages are higher or tied with last year's, and his playing time leads the league.

But beyond numbers, Deng has a rare ability to contribute in myriad areas. He may not be dominant in any area, but he's efficient if not excellent in most.