Kris Dunn narrowly misses All-Defensive team honors despite standout campaign

Dunn finished second in the NBA in steals per game (2.0) and was the only player who received All-Defensive team votes not on a playoff team.
by Sam Smith
Remind Me Later

Body

After a standout season defensively, Kris Dunn was the first player left off the NBA's All-Defensive teams that were announced on Tuesday.

What happened to third team?

Bulls point guard Kris Dunn finished 11th in a 10-person race.

Which actually is a lot better than it sounds. Though it also presents more questions about how the Bulls roster will look once the new management team gets to such things.

The NBA, on Tuesday, announced its 2020 All-Defensive teams:

First team: Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, Lakers forward Anthony Davis, 76ers guard Ben Simmons, Jazz center Rudy Gobert and Celtics guard Marcus Smart

Second team: Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard, Bucks center Brook Lopez, Miami Heat forward Bam Adebayo, Clippers guard Patrick Beverley and Bucks guard Eric Bledsoe

So Dunn didn't make first or second team.

But Dunn did get the most votes among the rest of the players receiving votes from a national media panel and was the only NBA player from a non playoff team or team not in the Orlando "bubble" to get any votes for All-Defense. Dunn finished ahead of some of the top guard and wing defenders, including Jrue Holiday, Kyle Lowry, Paul George, Chris Paul and Avery Bradley with four first place votes and 23 for second place.

Should we call it first loser? Best of the rest? Should we even call Dunn a Bull?

That's also a big question for the new management team.

Kris Dunn knocks the ball away from Utah's Tony Bradley

Kris Dunn knocks the ball away from Utah's Tony Bradley

Dunn is arguably (certainly statistically and according to award voters) the Bulls' best defender. He finished the NBA regular season second to first team defender Simmons in steals and easily No. 1 in steals per minute. Simmons and Dunn were the only NBA players to average at least two steals per game, Simmons at 2.1 and Dunn at 2.0 though Dunn averaged ten minutes fewer per game. Among the top 20 players in steals, Dunn played the fewest minutes per game and had the fewest starts.

Dunn also scored high among the more arcane defensive hustle statistics like deflections, loose balls recovered and defensive plus/minus. The Bulls had moved among the top 10 teams in defense before Dunn was injured for the season January 31 to join Wendell Carter Jr., who was hurt a few weeks earlier.

Dunn played 51 games and started his last 32. He averaged 7.3 points, which was his fewest in three seasons with the Bulls and shot just 26 percent on threes, also his lowest as a Bull. But he also averaged just under seven field goal attempts per game, by far his fewest with the Bulls. His overall shooting percentage was his best since coming to the Bulls with Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen in the 2017 Jimmy Butler trade. Dunn, last season, vastly improved his finishing at the rim and overall he shot 54 percent on two pointers. Dunn also was improving offensively before his injury, scoring in double figures six of his last seven games and averaging five rebounds on 38 percent three-point shooting in that stretch.

Kris Dunn steals the ball from Sacramento's Buddy Hield leading to an uncontested dunk.

The 6-3 Dunn is 26 and as a fourth-year NBA player, the Bulls can sign the two-time Big East Defensive Player of the Year to an extension or make him a qualifying offer to become a restricted free agent. Then they could match any offer. If they do not make him the qualifying offer, he would become an unrestricted free agent and available to any team. One potential complication is the qualifying offer was raised from $4.6 million to $7.1 million because of a new NBA proration formula because of the pandemic and suspension of the season.

The Bulls new management team hasn't offered many hints about its preferable kind of team. With the decision about Dunn's one-year qualifying offer due next month, perhaps the fate of one of the league's top perimeter defenders will provide a clue.

He's No. 11! He's No. 11!

Got a question for Sam?

Submit your question to Sam at asksam@bulls.com

The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Chicago Bulls. All opinions expressed by Sam Smith are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Chicago Bulls or its Basketball Operations staff, parent company, partners, or sponsors. His sources are not known to the Bulls and he has no special access to information beyond the access and privileges that go along with being an NBA accredited member of the media.

NEXT UP:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter