After hearing his name bandied about in trade speculation over the summer, Kris Dunn really didn’t know what to expect when he reported for training camp back in September.
The Bulls signed Tomas Satoransky as a free agent to be the presumptive starter at point guard, and used the seventh overall pick in the 2019 draft to select North Carolina point guard Coby White. The Bulls also brought back veterans Ryan Arcidiacono and Shaq Harrison to compete for minutes in the backcourt rotation.
Instead of complaining about losing his starting job, Dunn just kept working hard and made the most of his minutes, developing a good on-court chemistry with White on the Bulls’ second unit. And, when injuries sidelined small forwards Otto Porter Jr. and Chandler Hutchison, Jim Boylen turned to Dunn as his de facto starter at the position, assigning him to guard the opposing team’s best perimeter scorer.
Dunn has responded with some of the most efficient play of his NBA career. His overall numbers don’t jump off the page, except in the steals category where he leads the league in total steals with 58 and is tied for third with an average of 2.0 per game. His ability to pressure the ball disrupts opposing team’s offenses, helping the Bulls rise to ninth in defensive rating.
So, what does that mean for Dunn’s future with the Bulls?
The fourth year pro will be a restricted free agent at season’s end since he didn’t sign an extension of his rookie deal before the October deadline. The Bulls will have the right to match any offer he receives on the free agent market, and it will be interesting to see what kind of contract the fifth overall pick in the 2016 draft will be able to command.
Of course, Dunn’s outstanding defensive play could also draw interest from contending teams before the February 6 trade deadline. Problem is, with Dunn’s upcoming free agency, the Bulls can’t expect to get a lot back in return. The front office will have to decide whether it’s worth trading the Bulls’ best defensive player for another team’s reserve or a second-round draft pick.
In the meantime, Dunn will continue to work hard to harass point guards and perimeter scorers around the league, hoping to keep the Bulls among the top-10 defensive teams. It can be a thankless job at times, but Kris Dunn is hoping it might carry him to a spot on one of the NBA’s All-Defensive teams at season’s end.
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