Kris Dunn gets first Bulls start going into Lakers game
Coach Hoiberg describes it as 'long-term change'
Kris Dunn, get that coffee mug out. It’s the first day of the rest of your Bulls life.
At least Dunn and the Bulls hope so.
Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg Tuesday changed the starting lineup again, inserting Dunn for Jerian Grant at point guard against the Lakers and Lonzo Ball. The indications were the move appeared long term.
“The biggest thing he showed is consistency on the defensive end, so just wanted to get a little different lineup out there,” sad Hoiberg before Tuesday’s game with the Lakers. "Try and get Jerian going in a little bit different role, but Kris has earned it. He’s done a good job the past few games and hopefully he could build off these last two. Obviously we’re going to evaluate things after each game. We’ll go back and watch the film, but we plan on this being a long-term change."
Which also is a piece of the Bulls future coming clearer into view with Dunn moving to point guard, Lauri Markkanen solidifying himself at power forward and Zach LaVine closing in on a return, presumably at shooting guard.
“I’m excited. I felt like I put a lot of hard work in. I’m going to just go out there and play how I’ve been playing, try to bring that defensive intensity, get my guys involved and then attack when I can. I think I’ve been a little more locked in. I’m getting a lot more comfortable with my teammates and getting confident on the floor. They think I could be an elite defender one day. So that’s a challenge I’m going to take on. I’m going to go out there each and every day and try to bring that defensive intensity and bring it to the team. When somebody sees somebody playing hard, it feeds off.”
Because Dunn also says his is just a first step toward his goals.
“I want to go against the best guys in the world,” said Dunn. “They start. So as soon as tip off starts, I want to go one-on-one with them. he John Walls, the Westbrooks, to the Kyries, all the great point guards in the league. They don’t come off the bench, so why not?”
Why not, indeed?
Cameron Paayne was without his walking boot for the first time prior to the game and Hoiberg said he is progressing.
“His last x-ray showed improvement on his foot,” Hoiberg said. “He’s going to get a repeat CT scan on Dec. 1, and hopefully he continues to make progress to where we can get him out there and start doing some cutting and moving. Right now he’s still in the rehab stage, but he is walking without crutches. He’s out there taking spot shots right now, so hopefully he gets better. We’ll know a lot more after the CT scan.’’
And Hoiberg hopes the Bulls will see even more from Dunn, especially on the defensive end.
“The biggest thing is he needs to bring a passion and an edge to the game right away, especially defensively,” Hoiberg said of Dunn. “We have not been very good the past couple of games getting out to starts on the defensive end. We’ve had two good quarters on offense, but we’re not bringng that edge defensively, and teams are getting that confidence by getting those easy baskets. Especially getting out in transition. The big thing Kris needs to bring is a great energy to the floor both offensively and defensively right from the beginning.’’
As for Grant, Hoiberg said he will work in with the reserves.
“He was fine with it,” said Hoiberg. “Again, he’s struggling a little bit right now; so I think changing up his rhythm to get him going again. For the most part, he’s made simple plays, he’s done a good job with his assist-to-turnover (ratio). He has not shot the ball very well to this point, so hopefully this change will be good for him, and he can string some games together here and gain some confidence.’’
And Dunn is starting to sound more confident.
“It’s getting there,” Dunn said. “It’s not fully there. But the more games I play, the more comfortable I’m going to get. Going against the best guys. I mean, when you go against the best guys you see where your game’s at and see what you need to work on and improve. And you learn. You learn from those guys. That’s what I’m going out there to do. I’m going out there to compete. Try my hardest and see what I come up with.”
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