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Tony Snell gets the start as the evaluation process continues

The Bulls are still trying to figure out what Tony Snell is.

Is the third-year player a big-two who needs improvement with his ball-handling? Is he a small-three that can also blossom into a defensive specialist?

There’s not a real feel for his ceiling just yet.

“That’s a great question,’’ coach Fred Hoiberg said, when asked about the potential of the 2013 first-round pick. “Tony has had some really good moments for us. He’s definitely helped us win a lot of games this year, and he’s going to keep getting better and better. I truly believe that because of his work ethic. He’s a guy that’s puts a lot of extra work in the gym. He’s always getting up extra shots, always wants to watch extra film and grow in that way. I think he’s had some real key defensive moments as well, so Tony has done a good job so far in this season and I think he’s going to continue to get better.’’

Hoiberg definitely wants to give him that opportunity.

Looking to spark the starting lineup against the Pacers, especially on the defensive end, Snell made his sixth start of the season, getting the nod over Doug McDermott.

Big picture? This will be a key season for Snell, as the Bulls need to figure out what they have in the 6-foot-7 forward/guard.

The sample size has been small just 10 games into the regular season so far, but he was averaging 7.2 points in his increased role, and was shooting 47 percent from three-point range heading into the Pacers game. But while he was given the start over McDermott for defensive purposes, Snell has actually performed better off the bench.

All of that will matter very little, however, if there are obvious weaknesses in his game that aren’t improved, specifically his ball-handling and able to create his own shot off the dribble.

“He’s played well in pick-and-roll,’’ Hoiberg said of Snell’s skills with the ball in his hands. “He’s actually a very good pocket-passer. He’s dribbled himself into some trouble on a couple of occasions, but he’s also made some very good plays for us off the bounce as well.’’

For starters

According to Jimmy Butler, in the several games that the Bulls have been very low energy this season, look no further than blaming that on the starting unit.

“I see guys playing hard, not as hard as they should play all the time,’’ Butler said. “It’s the cause of some of the low energy to start the game, which is on the starters. And when it starts slow like that, it carries over to the bench players. That’s what I see. Low energy coming out the gates. Saying one thing, doing another.’’

Layups

Mike Dunleavy (back surgery) is expected to make the West Coast trip with the Bulls, and pick up his activity. … Pacers first-round pick Myles Turner had surgery on his left thumb Monday, and was expected to miss six weeks.