February has been quite a month for Chicago Bulls tandem Lauri Markkanen and Zach LaVine. Both players have been on a tear, combining to score 50.3 points per game and lead their team to a 4-5 record. However, Kris Dunn — the “other guy” that arrived in Chicago via the Draft Night 2017 trade — hasn’t been able to keep pace.
The third-year guard out of Providence has had a down season overall. According to BBall Index, he finished the 2017-18 season with a -0.84 Player Impact Plus-Minus and produced 1.51 Wins Added. So far this year, he has a -1.10 PIPM and has produced 0.90 Wins Added.
However, the month of February has been particularly rough for him. Dunn is averaging 8.4 points and 6.0 assists per game in the seven games he’s played. Those are his lowest averages for any month this season, netting out to a -1.22 PIPM.
Dunn’s current struggles have left fans wondering if he will be the Bulls point guard of the future. He has the talent to be the lead playmaker of Chicago’s youth movement. However, an extensive injury history has prevented that from being fully realized.
Kris Dunn has played 85 of a possible 143 games with the Bulls. He officially began his Bulls tenure injured, missing the first four games of 2017-18 with a dislocated left finger. He returned and played 40 of the next 41 games, missing one game over that span due to left patella tendonitis.
A concussion ended the streak, forcing him to miss 11 games. He came back and played 12 more games before suffering a “turf-toe type injury”. The Bulls chose to shut him down for the final 14 games of the season.
The missed games have continued to pile up in 2018-19. To be fair, he missed the first two games of the season due to the birth of his son. That is an awesome and perfectly understandable reason to miss time. Unfortunately, he suffered a sprained left MCL in his first game back. He would miss the next 24 games.
Dunn returned and played the next 30 games. He rolled his ankle twice along the way, but powered through. However, he took a hard fall on Feb. 11 and suffered a sore tailbone. Chicago chose to sit him out the following game since it was the last one before the All-Star Break.
Kris Dunn is playing hard through it all. When he is on the floor, he shows flashes that he could be an effective playmaker. He has a high defensive IQ, making him a pest on-the-ball. According to BBall Index, Dunn places in the league’s 83rd percentile in perimeter defense, translating to an A- grade. His 1.4 steals per game is the most among players still on the Bulls roster.
Dunn also averages a team-high 6.3 assists and 2.5 turnovers per game. His 2.52 assist-to-turnover ratio is an improvement from his 2.07 ratio last year. His turnovers have exceeded his assists only three times in 33 games this season. He is in the 78th percentile in playmaking, giving him a B+ grade.
Despite the progress, Bulls fans aren’t as patient with him. With the team currently towards the bottom of the standings, fans are looking towards top point guard prospect Ja Morant of Murray State to be the next man in line.
It also doesn’t help that backup Ryan Arcidiacono has also been more productive. Arcidiacono has produced a -0.16 PIPM and 2.2 Wins Added so far this season. Both numbers are second-best on the team.
However, there is still time for Dunn to prove his worth. He is signed through 2019-20 after the Bulls exercised a team option on Oct. 30. Perhaps with time he can mesh with the starting lineup and produce at a higher level.
Kris Dunn has had an injury-riddled tenure with the Chicago Bulls. However, his defensive IQ, playmaking skills, and athleticism could put him in the position to be the point guard of the future. While other options such as draft picks and backups loom, some good health and perseverance could keep him ahead of the pack.