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Bulls Players Season Review & Offseason Outlook: Kris Dunn

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As we move further into the Chicago Bulls offseason, Locked On Bulls will take a closer look at each player on the roster. What kind of impact did they have in the 2017-18 season, and what role (if any) should they be expected to play moving forward?

Next up: Kris Dunn

Kris Dunn – PG

2017-18 Bulls stats: 52 games, 13.4 points, 42.9 FG%, 32.1 3P%, 4.3 rebounds, 6.0 assists, 2.0 steals

2018-19 Contract Situation: Year 3 of his rookie deal. Last October, Bulls exercised $4.05 million option for the 2018-19 season.

Season Review: Kris Dunn came to Chicago this season as one of the pieces from last summer’s Jimmy Butler trade. As a rookie in Minnesota, he struggled to find his offensive game in his limited time as a bench player, averaging just 3.8 points in 17.1 minutes per game. (Insert joke here about Tom Thibodeau and rookie minutes.) Despite that, the Bulls front office still coveted Dunn, whom they really wanted in the 2016 Draft after scouting the Providence point guard extensively. They nearly dealt Butler on draft night in 2016 in order to move up and snag Dunn, getting deep into trade talks with both Boston (3rd pick) and Minnesota (5th pick). Those talks fell through, and Thibodeau took Dunn 5th for his new team.

Dunn’s first season with the Bulls was a rocky one, but ultimately he showed lots of potential when he was on the court. His season began with a badly dislocated finger, which forced him to sit the first four games. He served as the backup point guard for seven games upon his return before taking the starting job away from Jerian Grant. Once Kris found his rhythm in the starting lineup, he looked really good. In 24 starts through December and early January he averaged 14.8 points, 7.7 assists, 4.5 rebounds and 2.1 steals. Speaking of those steals, Dunn’s season average of 2.0 per game was 4th most among all NBA players. His steals per 48 minutes (3.27) trailed only Victor Oladipo among NBA players with at least 25 games this season.

Dunn’s defense is great, and that’s the big reason the Bulls loved him so much coming out of college. He has the length, quickness and skills to become one of the elite perimeter defenders in the league. Offensively, he displayed the ability to get up the floor quickly and find open looks for his teammates. Kris can even break down average defenders off the dribble and get to the rim, but his finishing at the rim needs work. His field goal percentage at 0-3 feet from the rim (where he took 26.3% of his total attempts) was just 54.3%. At 3-10 feet from the rim? Just 39.3%. Both of those numbers have to improve.

Dunn suffered another fluky and unfortunate injury in January. During a home game against Golden State, he landed awkwardly after a fastbreak dunk. Two of his front teeth had to be put back in place, and he sat out eleven games recovering from a concussion. Kris returned for twelve games spanning February and March and looked good in late-season wins (*gulp*) against Dallas (18 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists) and Memphis (21 points, 9 assists, 3 steals). Dunn then sat out the final 14 games of the season with turf toe. (Turf toe, or tank toe? I don’t know, I get those confused sometimes.)

Offseason Outlook: Unless a wild and unexpected trade happens on draft night, Dunn is firmly entrenched as the Bulls’ starting point guard next season. As stated above, Dunn needs to work on his finishing at the rim this offseason. John Paxson implored him to do so in his end of season press conference. He should also spend countless hours at the Advocate Center getting up shots with his head coach and shooting expert Fred Hoiberg. If Dunn can build upon his 3.3% uptick in three point percentage from his rookie season and become a reliable range threat it would help the Bulls offense tremendously. He attempted 2.6 threes per game this season. That’s a reasonable number, as the Bulls plan to put plenty of shooters around him. Ideally, though, he can get his percentage somewhere closer to the high thirties.

Most of all, Dunn needs to spend time working out and building chemistry with fellow core guys Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen. Due to various injuries and LaVine’s extended ACL recovery, those three only shared the court 12 times this season. And their collective plus/minus numbers in that small sample size weren’t good. Hopefully LaVine’s contract situation gets resolved quickly, and the young trio can spend as much time together this offseason as possible. Dunn and LaVine specifically need to find a better balance of how and when each of them is the ball-dominant player on the offensive end.

Have thoughts on Kris Dunn? Comment below or continue the conversation with me on Twitter @Bulls_Peck.

A Chicago native, Matt is an actor-turned-sports guy. Chicagoans may recognize him as Bodhi from the screen to stage hit Point Break LIVE! He studied under ESPN1000's Jonathan Hood as part of his training with the Sportscasters Mentoring Group. In addition to Locked On Bulls, he hosts The 312 on 1590 WCGO, which covers all 5 of Chicago's major teams. His work has been featured on FanRag, Bleacher Report, the Chicago Tribune, WGN & Sports Mockery. He's also a recurring guest on CLTV's Sports Feed. Follow him on Twitter @Bulls_Peck

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Chicago Bulls

Which Bulls player will come up consistently clutch this season?

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Locked On Bulls is back with a fresh episode, the guys pick up where they left off on yesterday’s episode talking about what the fourth quarter of games might look like. Jordan and Matt dive into clutch time statistics, what they mean, how they are important, and where the young Bulls core ended up last season. The second half of the show the guys kick off their newest segment of “Most Iconic Moments in Bulls History” with 32 different storylines that have defined the Chicago Bulls. The guys start with Michael Jordan’s “I’m Back” fax vs. Derrick Rose’s press conference asking “Why Can’t I Be MVP?”. The guys discuss the importance of both and ultimately which one moves on. Vote for either on Twitter (@LockedOnBulls) and join the discussion at (331)-979-1369.


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Chicago Bulls

Bulls Voicemail: Who are you relying on to take the clutch shot?

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Locked On Bulls is back with their weekly Bulls mailbag show, the guys kick off the episode with a voicemail about comparing Lauri Markkanen to Rasheed Wallace. The guys compare both players, why Matt and Jordan don’t necessarily see a connection and ultimately what Markkanen should be working on this season. Second voicemail is in response to an early question asking how Fred Hoiberg can get back into the good graces with Bulls fans who don’t believe in him. Third voicemail is a call about not necessarily needing to sign a top-tier free agent in 2019 in order to compete. Last voicemail of the show asks who we would like to see take the last shot in close games this season. Matt and Jordan dive into some clutch time statistics from last year to try and make a case for any of the five Bulls core players. All of this and so much more on Locked On Bulls.


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Chicago Bulls

Three Factors That Will Determine Bulls Playoff Chances

Benjamin Repay

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The Chicago Bulls won 27 games last season making it their lowest winning season since 2004. The Bulls were 26th in the NBA in points per game and 27th in points allowed per game. They were also 29th in the league in total point differential at -577 points. Although the Bulls had their worst season of the decade, the new and young additions to the roster may induce a playoff berth in a struggling Eastern Conference.

When deciding whether or not the Bulls are a playoff team, these questions come to mind:

  • Can an injury-prone starting lineup remain healthy?
  • Will Jabari Parker finally become the elite player he got drafted to be?
  • Are other teams in the East too good?

Health

Let’s not ignore the elephant in the room, this Bulls starting lineup has a long history of significant injuries. Whether they can remain healthy is a question that could make or break their playoff chances. The two biggest concerns for the Bulls regarding health is Jabari Parker and Zach LaVine. Parker and LaVine have a combined three ACL tears in the past two years. We know from previous years with Derrick Rose that it is difficult to stay healthy and yield the same production after an injury like Parker and LaVine suffered. But it wasn’t just Parker and LaVine who were recovering from injuries throughout last season.

Kris Dunn missed 11 games due to a concussion after a hard fall in January. He missed a few more games due to minor injuries like a dislocated finger, patella tendinitis, and a big toe sprain.

Bulls sophomore Lauri Markkanen missed a total of 14 games last season dealing with some minor injuries. Markkanen’s “back stiffness” was the main reason for most of his missed games. You could argue that some of Markkanen’s “rest days” came at the end of the season when the Bulls were trying to get a better draft pick.

Health is perhaps the biggest factor in whether the Bulls can make the playoffs. A healthy Bulls team can be a productive one with this young and talented lineup. No player necessarily needs to be a star if the team is healthy. Each player in the starting lineup is capable of scoring 15 per game with ease. If they all remain healthy, it’s not hard to see them as the 8th seed in the East.

Jabari Parker

After the Bulls offered Parker a questionable $20 million deal, expectations have never been higher for the Simeon legend. Many Bulls fans are wondering if Parker can be the scoring threat he once was with the Bucks. As much as I hate being reminded of it, I can’t help but think of Rose’s struggles on the floor after his ACL tear.

It’s not just about whether Parker can remain healthy. Can he still show the explosiveness and athleticism he had prior to the injuries? Driving to the rim and creating his own shots off the dribble are substantial elements of Jabari’s game. If that is taken away from him due to his injuries, we may not see the player the Bulls paid for.

Competition

The East has been the significantly weaker conference over the past several seasons. It’s for this reason the Bulls’ chances of making a playoff appearance are a lot greater than they would be if they were in the West. There were a total of five teams under 30 wins in the East last year and every team that didn’t make the playoffs was under .500. There were only four teams in the East that had 50 or more wins. One of those teams was the Cleveland Cavaliers. Obviously, the Cavs will struggle to reach the playoffs this season without LeBron James.

The Bull could pull off a mediocre 42-win season and still manage to make the playoffs. Not many teams in the East improved their roster quite like the Bulls. They drafted what looks to be one of the more talented and NBA-ready rookies in the league in Wendell Carter Jr., signed a proven scorer in Parker, and continue to develop young and talented players like Markkanen, Dunn and Bobby Portis.

The Bulls are one of the most improved teams in the NBA if they can remain healthy and Parker can live up to everyone’s expectations. They have scorers all over their starting lineup and players like Portis and Antonio Blakeney wanting to prove themselves off the bench. Whether you want the Bulls to make the playoffs or not, there is no doubt they will be a fun team to watch come October.

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