Chicago Bulls: Kris Dunn is proving his worth on the defensive end

Chicago Bulls (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Chicago Bulls (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

Kris Dunn has been making his mark defensively for the Chicago Bulls. He has started the past five games, and the team has gone 2-3 during that stretch.Coming into the season, Kris Dunn was viewed as trade bait and a project that already has been deemed a failure by Chicago Bulls fans and the media. To ownership, they’ve stuck behind Dunn in public and private, stating what type of player they expect him to be and Jim Boylen has shown confidence in him rewarding Dunn with five-straight starts from November 27th on.

In his fourth season in the league and third with Chicago, Dunn trails only the 76ers’ Ben Simmons (51) in steals this season with 48 and he’s tied-third behind Simmons (2.3) and former Bulls forward Jimmy Butler (2.3) in per-game averages. In 22 games this season, Dunn’s 48 steals are more than Kawhi Leonard, James Harden, Chris Paul, and Anthony Davis to name a few impressive players that have played 200 more minutes than him.

In five games as the starting point guard for the Bulls, Dunn has averaged 10 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 2.2 steals per game. He has had six steals in the past two games and a +4 Real Plus-Minus over the two losses. In the five-game stretch, he’s had a -12 RPM and has attempted 8.4 field goal attempts as a starter compared to 6.7 shots as a reserve.

His play hasn’t been anything remarkable, but he’s creating opportunities defensively and inside the three-point arc. His shooting percentages have increased from 43.6 percent in November to 50 percent from the field in his five starts.

Dunn is on the books for $5.34 million this season and a qualifying offer of nearly $7.1 million in 2020-21 as a restricted free agent. This season will be financially Dunn’s most important whether he moves forward with Chicago or not.

Rookie Coby White remains on the bench despite being second on the team in shot attempts with 12.2 and third in three-point attempts with 6.0 per game. White’s been a sparkplug for Chicago, and his play has been best-suited for the bench. The Bulls’ bench leads the league in steals (4.0) thanks to Dunn and 11th in bench scoring (38.5) thanks to White’s 12.4 points per game.

Dunn is certainly raising his trade value for the Bulls (if there was any to begin with), but the Bulls as a whole are struggling. Jim Boylen looks to be moving forward with the lineup of Dunn, Satoransky, Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen, and Wendell Carter Jr. after having to shake up the lineup due to Otto Porter Jr. and Chandler Hutchinson missing time with injuries.

The Bulls have looked a tad bit better defensively and have allowed 103.6 points per game over the last five games compared to 109.2 on the season. The competitiveness is back for the Bulls as they’ve lost three games by a combined 11 points. The Bulls are 8-16 on the season and are 4-6 in their past 10 games before starting their four-game homestand against the Raptors, Hawks, Hornets, and Clippers.

Expect Dunn to continue to start in Porter’s absence as we won’t know Porter’s status for at least two more weeks.

Next. Player grades from heartbreaking OT loss in Miami. dark

Until then, let’s see how this lineup with Dunn continues to progress and how much he continues to positively affect the starting lineup before returning to the bench alongside White.