Kris Dunn isn’t on the Bulls’ leadership committee (or is it Leadership Committee?) but that hasn’t stopped him from taking full command of the Bulls’ offense since his return to the lineup.
He’s also running with his opportunity as the clear facilitator since Zach LaVine’s sprained ankle, and it’s resulted in a handful of positive outings for the 24-year-old point guard. And in the Bulls’ last two home games on Wednesday and Friday he proved that he’s capable of affecting games in different ways, which should be helpful as the offense looks for any signs of improvement.
On Wednesday he took it upon himself to attack the rim, amassing 21 shots in 34 minutes. He was aggressive against a Brooklyn backcourt that showed little resistance, as 14 of Dunn’s attempts came from 15 feet or less. On Friday he realized quickly who had the hot hand, feeding Lauri Markkanen on five of his 12 made field goals in a win over the Magic. Dunn still put up 14 shots in 36 minutes but, per NBA.com, made 56 passes, 14 more than he made on Wednesday.
“I try to get my guys going. Like I said before, I’m a pass-first point guard. It helps me with my game getting other guys going and allowing me to play my game, allowing me to be aggressive, too. It’s good to get Lauri going.”
Dunn has averaged 18.0 points, 5.8 assists and 1.8 steals in four games since LaVine went down. Though he’s made just 1 of 6 3-pointers, he’s shooting 50 percent from the field and has just 10 turnovers in 132 minutes. His usage rate is 26.8 percent, highest on the team since LaVine injured himself. He’s been effective playing different styles as Jim Boylen and the Bulls continue to slow the pace; the Bulls are 25th in pace since Boylen took over and Dunn, who has looked comfortable in halfcourt sets, is thriving.
“Whatever gets the win. If I’ve got to be aggressive on the offensive side looking at the rim a little bit more or getting my guys involved,” he said. “I’m a pass-first point guard but it’s the NBA. You’re gonna have good games, you’re gonna have bad games.
“The thing about me is I’m gonna play hard no matter what so in the games where I didn’t shoot well I made sure I got everybody in the right spots to be able to execute on the offensive side and on the defensive side do what I do best: guard my yard.”
He’s also catching the eye of his head coach. Dunn said when Boylen was hired his mentality wasn’t going to change. Still, it’s clear that Dunn is Boylen’s type of player with his work ethic, defensive prowess and poise.
He’s proving that the Bulls will still have a driving force to initiate the offense and facilitate even without their leading scorer in the lineup.
“Kris Dunn, I thought, had unbelievable poise in the pocket,” Boylen said after Friday’s win. “I thought he had command of what I want and he had great synergy and just I felt like I had a captain out there, a leader out there with him. And I’m really happy for that. That’s something we were talking about and working on.”