Kris Dunn’s game is not done growing

Kris Dunn went from being called the best point guard prospect the draft to a “draft steal” to a bust and then a piece of a blockbuster trade in about a year. Sometimes a change of scenery can help a young player reach their potential. That may be the case, as Dunn appears to be finding his groove with the Chicago Bulls.

Heading into the 2016 NBA draft Dunn was considered the best point guard prospect and even considered a potential option for the Boston Celtics at number three. The Celtics would select Jaylen Brown and open the door for Dunn to end up in Minnesota. Dunn was supposed to be the point guard of the future paired up with Karl Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins but it seemed he was never able to take the starting spot from Ricky Rubio. With a disappointing rookie season behind him, he was part of the package that got Jimmy Butler to Minnesota from Chicago.

This season did not start out great for Dunn when he dislocated his finger in a preseason game and had to miss the first four games for the Bulls. He’s come back and has been a solid player for a team devoid of talent. It seems that playing on a team that has zero playoff aspirations is allowing him an opportunity to play through mistakes, something he wasn’t afforded in Minnesota. As his minutes have risen this year, so have his numbers.

Minutes Points 3pt 3pt% Assists Rebounds
     16-17       17.1       3.8     0.3-0.9

   28.8%

         2.4           2.1
17-18 27.4 12.2 1.1-2.4   44.4% 4.5

4.7

Dunn has also really picked it up his last five games.

Minutes Points 3pt 3pt% Assists Rebounds
Last 5 games 30.3 16.4 1.8-2.8    64.3% 6.4

4.8

If Dunn can keep these numbers up, he can shed the label of a draft bust and start to prove that he does belong in the NBA. The biggest improvement in his game has been his three point shooting. It has gone from below 30% to above 40% and he’s been red hot in the last five games hitting 64.3% of his threes. This number may drop once teams decide to close out harder, all of the examples below are open looks especially the first one where the defender just watches as he goes up to shoot.

In addition to his improved shooting, Dunn has been attacking the paint more aggressively lately and finishing through contact. He already has the same amount of and-1s this season as he did all of last season. In the examples below he used his explosiveness to blow by defenders and get to the rim.

In the Pick-and-Roll Dunn has done a good job of creating for his teammates., in particular the roll man. In the first play when he came off the Robin Lopez screen, he wasn’t able to make the pass to him but instead took the big defender under the rim and hit Lopez with a drop off pass for a dunk. Then against Cleveland, as he came off the highball screen, he whipped a bounce pass around Kevin Love and just out of reach of JR Smith to find Lopez again for a dunk.

Dunn has also picked up a few veteran moves already, like when he comes off a ball screen and the defender goes over the top of the screen. He slows up to keep the defender on his hip and will even give him a slight bump to knock him off balance and create space for himself to either make a pass or hit the pull up.

Sometimes landing on the right team or situation can decide whether a young player can succeed. In Dunn’s rookie year he was on a team that was under pressure to make the playoffs and was given a short leash because they needed to win games. Now Dunn is in a situation to figure out his NBA game, he doesn’t have to look over his shoulder when he makes a mistake to check if he’s getting pulled out of the game. The Bulls are in a total rebuild mode and are evaluating their young talent. In Dunn they have a potential solid NBA player with a chance to be part of their young core, as they improve.

NBA Notes

  • Donovan Mitchell’s star is growing – going into the draft there was not a lot of hype about Donovan Mitchell but momentum was slowly growing during summer league and now has reached a crescendo. Mitchell’s play is making a lot of teams that passed on him look pretty bad including the Nuggets who traded the pick for Trey Lyles and the Jazz pick that turned out to be Tyler Lydon. This is a great example of a player landing the right situation, the Jazz lost Gordon Hayward this summer and it opened the door for Mitchell to shine. Check out the most recent Jump Ball Podcast where Sam Vecenie and I discussed Mitchell’s play.

Article Notes

  • All Stats came from Basketball-Reference.com and NBA.com/Stats
  • Photo Credit to the Chicago Tribune

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