Player breakdowns: Bulls guard Kris Dunn has finally embraced a role.

Player breakdowns: Bulls guard Kris Dunn has finally embraced a role.

With the NBA season still up in the air, the Sun-Times will look at each Bulls player, the season they had, and the upcoming seasons they will have – as a Bull or elsewhere. Next up is Dunn.

Maybe it’s the wingspan.

After all, 6-foot-3 guards aren’t supposed to go 6-9½ fingertip to fingertip.

Then there’s the quick hands. “DB hands,’’ as the Bulls guard likes to joke, falling back on his football days.

Throw in that self-proclaimed “dawg mentality’’ that Dunn has lived his life by, and of course he’s one of the toughest defensive assignments – not named Patrick Beverley – opposing guards have to deal with.

Even tougher?

Assessing Dunn’s career since he came over in the 2017 Jimmy Butler trade.

Is he injury-prone or just riddled with bad luck?

Is he the poster boy of overcoming the odds or is he more Greek tragedy?

Or maybe he’s simply all of the above.

What’s disheartening about how Dunn’s 2019-20 season went, however, was the former fifth overall pick from the 2016 draft finally got it. He found his place. Yes, he can play the point and be a lead guard for a couple minutes each game, and sure, he’s an average facilitator. But first and foremost he’s a stopper. Embracing that mentality above everything else is what will continue putting food on the table for years to come.

That was Dunn’s attitude this year … finally.

And before the right MCL injury ended his season last month, he was gaining accolades for playing to his strength, well on his way to all-defensive team honors.

Before the league was shut down because of the coronavirus, Dunn still led the league in deflections per 36 (5.4), was fourth in overall steals with 101, and second in steals per game with 2.0.

Ask Atlanta All-Star point guard what Dunn was about this season.

Young was averaging 29.6 points per game, and hitting 36.1 percent from three-point range in his sophomore campaign. In his two meetings with Dunn, however, Young was held to 12 points per game, shot 7-for-26 from the field, and just 1-for-14 from three-point range (.071 percent).

The “dawg’’ ate in both showdowns, and not the only elite scorer that Dunn was a headache for.

The Situation: Dunn’s future with the Bulls is less about financial than it is about philosophy.

The guard is a restricted free agent this offseason, current coach Jim Boylen wants him back, but with a front office make-over in the works, Boylen could be out.

Dunn makes Boylen’s defense work, as well as allowing the offense to get out and run in transition because of all the turnovers.

If there is a coaching change, however, and a coach that values offense and three-point shooting over defense, Dunn becomes very expendable.

The Bulls will allow the market to set the price on Dunn either way, but there is no question his future with the Bulls is more based on what happens in the coaching seat.

The Resolution: The Clippers had been sniffing around Dunn since last summer, but that was before the latest knee injury. In his three campaigns with the Bulls, the most games he’s played in a season is 52.

Yes, he’s developed into a key reserve on a playoff team, ideally sent in to disrupt for 20 minutes per game, and give some minutes as the lead guard against second units, but his ability to stay healthy is now a concern, to go along with his liabilities on the offensive end.

That could crush his value come offer time, which will benefit the Bulls.

Bold Prediction: Like the Nikola Mirotic drama in the 2017 offseason, the market never came calling for the stretch-four. The Bulls ended up taking advantage of the situation, inking him to a two-year, $27 million deal. Dunn will meet the same fate, signing a two-year deal for $18 million, coming off the bench for new head coach Kenny Atkinson.

Source : Joe Cowley Link

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