Chicago Bulls guard Kris Dunn is officially out for the remainder of the 2019-20 season. Let’s give his complete season a grade.
When Kris Dunn injured his knee in early February, it felt like his season was over. Now, per K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago, Jim Boylen has officially confirmed that Dunn is out for the season. This injury was a huge bummer for Dunn and Bulls fans. Prior to his injury, he was enjoying by far the best season of his relatively young career.
Coming into this season, Dunn’s value was a complete mystery. He had become stagnant as an offensive player, unable to find his role on the team. It was clear when the Bulls drafted Coby White and brought in Tomas Satoransky that Chicago had given up on the idea of Dunn as the point guard of the future. I thought that meant they had given up on Dunn in general, but I couldn’t have been more wrong.
The pivot in Dunn’s career (and value) came when he took a step back on offense and took his already-good defense to an elite level. For the most part, he stopped trying to score the ball, and when he needed to look for his own shot, he did so by getting to the rim. This season, he averaged 6.7 field-goal attempts per game and had a 14.6 usage rate. Those are both his lowest since his rookie season in Minnesota. Not coincidentally, his true shooting percentage this season (51 percent) was the highest of his career.
Self-awareness in life is a good thing. It’s also a good thing in the world of professional basketball. Dunn made a bigger impact on defense this season than he ever could’ve imagined making on offense. He was constantly pestering the opposing team’s best guard, basically living in said guard’s jersey. He gave opposing players no space on or off the ball.
Watching Kris Dunn play defense all season was equivalent to watching Zach LaVine score the ball. It was mystifying.
If you want a number to attach to Dunn’s defense, just look at the simplest one of them all. He averaged 2.9 steals per 36 minutes. That’s spectacular. Dunn’s steals weren’t only a byproduct of gambling in the passing lanes. He was one of the league’s best all season at stripping ball handlers — an elite NBA skill.
Heading into a contract year, this summer is a pivotal one for Dunn. Thanks to a season where he flipped people’s opinions of him, he’ll be an interesting guy to keep an eye on when free agency rolls around.