Bulls Season Rewind 18-19: Kris Dunn
Bulls fans had high hopes and expectations for point guard Kris Dunn heading into the 2018-19 season. After coming over to the Bulls in the summer of 2017 (along with Lauri Markkanen and Zach LaVine) in the trade that sent star forward Jimmy Butler to Minnesota, Dunn flashed an improved scoring touch, explosiveness and vocal style that had Bulls fans buzzing.
Unfortunately, injuries and inconsistency on the court slowed Dunn’s production this season. After missing the first two games of the season following the birth of his first child, Dunn suffered an MCL sprain in the first game in which he saw the court and proceeded to miss the first six weeks of the season, putting him behind the eight ball to start off. After staying largely healthy after that, Dunn also missed the final eight games of the season with a back issue.
Though Dunn’s scoring averages went down, when he did play, he continued to work on running the point for the team, and Dunn did flash an improved three-point shot this past season. Dunn has shown that he can score and his defense remains a highly respected skill around the NBA, and the Bulls will look for him to improve his passing and court vision if Dunn is to be the point guard as this team turns the corner.
Let’s take a look at some of Dunn’s best performances of this past season:
March 20, vs Wizards (Bulls 126, Washington 120 OT)
Dunn Stat Line: 26 points (10-24 FG), 3-7 3PT, 13 assists, 6 rebounds, 2 steals
In what was easily Dunn’s all-around best game of the season, the young guard showcased all his potential in 39 minutes of this home win against the Wizards. Playing without LaVine, Dunn stepped up to take the role of backcourt scorer and supplemented Markkanen’s 32 points with 26 of his own (a season high) – matching All-Star guard Bradley Beal – to go along with 13 assists. Perhaps more important than the raw stats is how he got them. Dunn stepped up in overtime when the team needed him the most – hitting two clutch triples and converting two free throws near the end to secure the win.
January 4, vs Pacers (Indiana 119, Bulls 116 OT)
Dunn Stat Line: 16 points (6-9 FG), 2-2 3PT, 17 assists, 5 rebounds
In what was one of the more exciting games of the season, the Bulls fell on a final second overtime shot from All-Star guard Victor Oladipo, but not before a heart-pounding back and forth effort in front of a raucous United Center crowd. A big factor in the Bulls success was the steady point guard play from Dunn, who posted a career high of 17 assists (not a typo) and set up his teammates all night long to go along with an uber-efficient 16 points on 9 shots. This kind of playmaking is what the Bulls hope to see more of in the future from Dunn.
December 15, at Spurs (Bulls 98, San Antonio 93)
Dunn Stat Line: 24 points (11-19 FG), 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals
The shorthanded Bulls, playing without leading scorer LaVine, went into this mid-December road matchup as heavy underdogs against a hot Spurs team that had won four straight games. Things didn’t look good for the team, especially when they faced a 21-point third quarter deficit, but the Bulls rallied to hand the Spurs a stunning loss on their home court largely through balanced play and a hard-nosed effort led by Dunn. Dunn led the team in scoring with 24 points, including the final six points of the game.
"He (Dunn) has proven last year and then tonight that he can close," said Bulls coach Jim Boylen. "That's important when you can find a closer… He has toughness. He was a football player, which I love. I was a football player. He's competitive, he likes playing on the road. He wants to be great. He's learning how to close. This was a good win for us."