Preps Talk

Frolik ready to contribute in Shaw's absence

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Frolik ready to contribute in Shaw's absence

Michael Frolik obviously hasnt had the type of season he wanted. He was a healthy scratch down the stretch, and through the first two playoff games. Even when he was playing on a regular basis, his strong defense was there but the scoring wasnt.

Now with Andrew Shaw facing a three-game suspension, it appears Frolik may get another chance to crack the lineup.

Frolik could be playing in Game 3 tonight as the Blackhawks host the Phoenix Coyotes in their Western Conference quarterfinal series. For Frolik, this has been a trying season. His five goals mark his lowest season total in his NHL career, and its a far cry from the two consecutive 21-goal seasons he had with the Florida Panthers.

But Froliks hoping he can get his game going if he plays tonight.

Its a long season. Some small thing can happen and it can turn around, he said. Its the playoffs. Everyone starts at zero. And its a chance for me to use it the right way.

Indeed, Frolik had a very solid postseason last year for the Blackhawks, posting two goals and three assists, including his successful penalty shot in Game 6.

Frolik has had a forgettable season. He figured Chicago would be a fresh start when he left Florida, that he would take off here. It didnt happen this regular season. So if he plays now, he needs to reignite his game.

I want to make sure Im ready, he said. I want to get moving try to make easy plays. Well see how it goes from there.

De La Salle's Matt Byrnes participates in the seventh annual Franklin Middle School Dodgeball Tournament

De La Salle's Matt Byrnes participates in the seventh annual Franklin Middle School Dodgeball Tournament

Hey kid...no pressure.

De La Salle junior tight end Matt Byrnes (6-foot-5, 200 pounds) made his first Franklin Middle School Dodgeball tournament appearance earlier this month.

He was also the team’s lone rookie on a team that had won the charity tournament the year before. While the Meteors came up just short in retaining the title a few weeks ago, no one also enjoyed themselves over the past two years more than De La Salle.

Byrnes, who played wide receiver and tight end last fall for the Meteors and head coach Mike Boehm, checks in and recaps his latest recruiting news. He also gives us an early preview of the 2019 De La Salle Meteors.

Improved 3PT shooting and lower usage the path to success for Kris Dunn

Improved 3PT shooting and lower usage the path to success for Kris Dunn

Much has (fairly) been made this year of the Bulls ongoing search for a long-term answer at the point guard position. While Lauri Markkanen and Zach LaVine have taken big step forwards this in their development this year, Dunn's game has seemingly plateaued, with some pretty big red flags. But to act as if Dunn hasn't made some improvements this year would be a disservice to his game, and his perimeter shooting as of late definitely deserves a closer look.

In the Bulls OT win over the Wizards on Wednesday, Dunn attempted a career-high seven 3-point shots. And much, much more important than the fact that he took seven attempts from deep was just how went about taking them.


By my count, two of his seven 3-point attempts on Wednesday were step-back 3-pointers—he made 1 of 2—a shot that it was extremely rare to see him take in year's past.

In Jim Boylen's offense Dunn does a lot of his work by running to Lauri Markkanen or Robin Lopez for handoff plays. And when the opponent runs hard to deny Dunn the ball you will occasionally see him reject the screen and take a one-dribble step back 3-point shot.

Dunn's form still makes his shot relaease a little bit slower than most, but with how far defenses sag off of him, even a slow-developing step back will do wonders for his offensive game.


Through 11 games in March, Dunn has shot 40 percent from the 3-point line on 35 attempts. His overall 3-point attempt rate has not increased in a meaningful way but simply hitting his open shots are half the battle since opponents are still going so far under the screen on him. He has clearly worked hard on his shot and has so far seen his 3-point accuracy increase every season of his career.

So with all this in mind, it is still too early to give up on Dunn as a long-term piece of this team.

As LaVine has taken on a larger role as a primary ballhandler and play initiator, Dunn has adjusted his game in turn, driving to the basket less and focusing more on keeping the ball moving.

With all the changes the Bulls went through this year, a full offseason of work with the current roster will make Dunn a little bit more sure of his role on the team, which will surely change even more depending on who the Bulls select in the 2019 NBA Draft and what they do in free agency.  

But if ultimately Dunn's role is that of a low-usage, defensive-minded player who doesn't have the ball in his hands—a la Shaq Harrison—then the path for him to contine to start next to LaVine is there. 

Though the catch-and-shoot numbers are worringly bad this season (28.8 percent), Dunn has taken strides a pull-up shooter. After shooting a solid 36 .2 percent on 58 pull-up 3-pointers in 2017-18, that figure is up to 45.7 percent, though only on 35 attempts through 45 games. 

The overarching point here is that if Dunn's improvement from 3-point range is real—which his career-best 79.1 percent free throw percentage would suggest—then we should expect a small increase next season as well. 

Ultimately, despite being underwhelming on offense overall due to poor finishing at the rim—26th percentile among "combo guards" via subscription-based site Cleaning the Glass—Dunn can actually increase his offensive value by shooting less, and that is why there should still be optimism in regards to Dunn. 

To fully flourish in the NBA, Dunn needs to be on the floor with players who will use up enough possesions to make him an overqualified fifth option, rather than a woefully underqualfied third or fourth option. Whether the Bulls draft another PG or not, next season will be huge for Dunn. 

Marcus Smart is a great example of the type of player Dunn can and should become on a winning team.

In 2018-19 Smart has a career-low 13.8 usage percentage. But by taking a step back on offense (in terms of overall shot attempts) and redirecting his shot profile to attempt more 3-point shots than 2-pointers, Smart is putting together the best season of his career in terms of offensive efficiency. Once the Bulls have added yet another intriuiging offensive talent, there is absolutely no reason to believe that Dunn's career won't take a similar turn. 

With Boylen as head coach, there will always be minutes for a player like Dunn, who gives maximum effort on defense even if a tad overzealous with his physicality. But Dunn's game is coming along, even if it seems like it isn't.

He is a late bloomer who has improved his plus/minus rating by 0.7 points amid another tough season.

When the games are bigger and the lights shine brighter on what many expect to be a much improved team next year, Dunn will be ready to take another big step forward whether he is playing next to LaVine or doing more work with the second unit. And that is because despite being open about the PG position, the Bulls orginization still believes in Dunn, which Boylen showed with his postgame comments on Wednesday:

"Kris Dunn is a hard worker who cares, tries and isn't afraid of the moment."