Bulls

The Impact of Kris Dunn’s Injury

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After missing the first two games of the season due to the birth of his son, Kris Dunn made his debut in Dallas against the Mavericks. A day later, we learned that Dunn suffered a sprained MCL and will miss the next 4-6 weeks.

Already shorthanded (forwards Lauri Markkanen and Denzel Valentine have yet to play this season either), as well as dropping their three games, the Bulls must now prepare for life without their starting point guard.

Losing Dunn means that the Bulls lose arguably their best defender, especially on the perimeter. As poor as the Bulls’ defense was the first two games, you saw Dunn’s effectiveness against Mavs PG Dennis Smith Jr. of the Mavs, who only scored seven points on 2-11 shooting. Though Dunn didn’t shoot well and turned the ball over four times, the Bulls, who at the time of this writing are 27th in dRTG, displayed a better defensive effort with him than without him.

The Bulls certainly have point guards to play minutes in Dunn’s absence. Cameron Payne is the immediate backup, even though he may not be the fanbase’s favorite player. The feisty Ryan Arcidiacano has provided valuable minutes for Fred Hoiberg. There’s also two-way player Tyler Ulis whom the Bulls picked up recently. A Marian-Catholic alumnus, the 5’10 Ulis has good NBA experience having played two seasons with the Phoenix Suns, where he averaged 7.5 points and 4.0 assists.

After waiving Omer Asik, the Bulls also picked up defensive-minded guard Shaquille Harrison, who also last played in Phoenix. Standing at 6’4 with long arms, Harrison’s game somewhat resembles Dunn’s. Both are defensive oriented players who aren’t very good shooters. However, on this team, scoring isn’t needed much from the point guard position.

Zach LaVine has averaged 32.3 points per game, shooting above 60% from the field through three contests. He’ll command most of the ball-handling responsibilities in Dunn’s absence, but he’ll also command most of the attention from the opposition. The point guard next to him will have to be confident in this next stretch, because the Bulls’ schedule doesn’t get any easier. From October 24th-November 3rd, the point guards the Bulls will face will consist of: Kemba Walker (x2), Trae Young, Steph Curry, Jamal Murray, Darren Collison, and Chris Paul. This is a tough stretch for the Bulls, healthy or not.

Coming into the season, the Bulls were highly optimistic about their young core, and they still have reason to be. There’s a plethora of talent on this team, but an 0-3 start, a bad defensive team, and being without Markkanen, Valentine and Dunn for the foreseeable future, the training camp optimism and post-season dreams could quickly be heading in the opposite direction.

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