Is Chicago Bulls Point Guard Kris Dunn the Hidden Gem in the Jimmy Butler Trade?


Could Chicago Bulls point guard Kris Dunn turn out to be the best piece in the Jimmy Butler trade?

Kris Dunn is proving the doubters wrong. But, you might want to sit down for this. I’m firing up the hot take cannon and making a case that Kris Dunn is going to turn out to be the most valuable piece in the Butler trade. Yup, buckle up.

Kris Dunn, drafted with the 5th pick of the 2016 NBA Draft, was written off as a bust after his first season with the Timberwolves.  Following an article from Zach Harper shortly after the draft that indicated the Bulls could have traded Jimmy Butler for the rights to Dunn and Zach LaVine – this looked like a close escape!

In his first year with the Wolves, Kris Dunn averaged 3.8ppg, 2.4apg and shot 37.7% from the field, and a dreadful 28.8% from deep.  Thibodeau is notoriously rough on rookies, but those numbers are shocking for a fifth pick in the draft.

On NBA Draft night this year, it could be argued that Kris Dunn was a bit of an afterthought for Bulls fans. The headline of the Butler trade was that we acquired Zach LaVine and would be able to draft in the top 10 with the 7th pick.  This was further demonstrated when Kris Dunn found himself coming off the bench to start this season.

However, Dunn quickly made a case for being considered a starter.  Fans watched on in frustration as Jerian Grant continued to start, and continued to not be able to run an offense effectively.

Before the Lakers game on November 21st, news broke that Dunn would be starting, and Sam Smith pointed out that Hoiberg had indicated that this was a long-term change.  Dare I use the dreaded words ‘point guard of the future’ (condolences, Cameron Payne), but that is what Dunn is being heralded as by many.

Kris Dunn is having a bounce back year

Kris Dunn is trending upwards, as you can see in the increase in his stats in the first week of December.

November: 12.3ppg, 4.3apg, 4.8rpg, 43.8 FG% and 43.2 3P%
December: 13.0ppg, 6.3apg, 4.7rpg, 44.4 FG% and 50.0 3P%

He still has some creases to iron out in his game; with the most notable being his turnovers. So far in his Bulls career, his turnover percentage (an estimate of turnovers per 100 possessions) is 20.6.

There are 401 players in the league with a better percentage. The other big area for improvement is reducing his fouling, as he often finds himself in foul trouble early.

The positives are that Dunn is beginning to expand his game on the offensive end. Everyone knows he has the potential to be one of the best on-ball defenders in the league, but he has been severely lacking in the ‘getting buckets’ department.

However, he has begun changing that perception by developing a pretty consistent mid-range game and accompanying it with fearless drives to the basket and a three-point shot that is forcing defenses to respect it.

His energy and tenacity make him, in my eyes at least, a potential triple-double machine. If he can cut out some of his turnovers, have some better shooters around him (hello Mirotic and LaVine) and get some extra minutes – he could be well on his way. His per 36 mins for the season show that this is a real possibility: 16pts, 5.9ast and 6.2reb.

The early signs on Kris Dunn are that he could be an exceptionally important piece of the Bulls future. How great it would be to have a point guard with the level of versatility that Dunn could present in time. A lock-down defender, an athletic driver of the ball, and a decent knock-down shooter.

Is Dunn the best piece in the Butler trade?

So, is he a better piece than Lauri Markkanen and Zach LaVine? For the sake of my argument, I’m going to say yes. Here’s why…

Zach LaVine is coming off of eight months rehab after tearing his left ACL in February, earlier this year. Now, I know what you’re going to say – the reports are that he is jumping higher and dunking harder. But as Bulls fans, still recovering from the heartache that is the demise of Derrick Rose; surely we know better than to believe that those reports genuinely means he will return to the level he was last season?

Even if he does manage to replicate his previous level of performance, he was only the third best player on a Timberwolves team that couldn’t make the playoffs.

I believe that Lauri Markkanen has the potential to be an absolute monster. But, there’s no denying it – his ‘off night’, has become a ‘shooting slump’, and is now making us all wonder whether we jumped the gun when we all said he was Dirk Nowitzki 2.0. His decline is obvious, especially when you look at the downward trend of his stats:

October: 15.6ppg and 9.6rpg
November: 14.2ppg and 7.2rpg
December: 12.7ppg and 6.0rpg

Next: Dunn continues to impress

I’m not too worried. He’s a rookie, and they do hit walls and get over them. But right now, he’s falling off, and whose picking up the slack? My man, Kris Dunn.

So, there you have it. Kris Dunn is unquestionably, unequivocally and irrefutably the best piece for the Bulls in the Butler trade. Maybe.