Kris Dunn is all about bringing the defense and some swag to the Bulls

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There’s something very Jimmy Butler-esque about the way Kris Dunn approaches the game.

Yes, both players have a certain swag to them, and yes, both have an off-the-court background story that is right off the pages of a Hollywood script.

But even more than that, there’s a sense of what their strength as basketball players is and the confidence in how that ability can affect the team.

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“I’m trying to pick my spots on offense and be aggressive on defense,’’ Dunn said of life as a starter now three games in. “I think that’s what’s holding me high right now.

“[The Bulls coaches] 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 of it.’’

Maybe, but since Dunn has been named the starting point guard over Jerian Grant, he still has an empty feeling. The Bulls came up empty again Friday, suffering their third-worst defeat in franchise history in a 143-94 loss to the Warriors.

Not that Dunn should be blamed. He actually has been a bright spot in recent losses to the Lakers and Jazz.

Dunn held highly touted Lakers point guard Lonzo Ball to eight points while scoring 12 himself with six assists. Against the Jazz, Dunn again scored 12 points and grabbed nine rebounds.

But the lingering problem for Dunn has been turnovers. He had four in each game against teams that thrive on the opposition’s mistakes.

“I know I have to be better in that area,’’ Dunn said. “Just keep watching film, studying what I do wrong and not repeating my mistakes. If I want to stay a starter, that’s an important part of the game.’’

Dunn wants to remain a starter. While he tried to downplay it earlier this season, he knows there’s a different perception between being a starter and a reserve.

“For someone like me, that’s what I’m used to,’’ Dunn said of starting. “And I want to go against the best guys in the world. They start. So as soon as tipoff starts, I want to go one-on-one with them. To the John Walls, the [Russell] Westbrooks, to the Kyries [Kyrie Irving], all the great point guards in the league. They don’t come off the bench, so why not?’’

If Dunn wants to continue to start, he needs to clean up the careless turnovers and bring the defensive intensity on a nightly basis.

“I think that’s where I’ll be a leader,’’ Dunn said of his defensive ability. “We’ve got a bunch of leaders. We’ve got Rolo [Robin Lopez]. We’ve got Justin [Holiday]. They’ve been doing good so far. But on the defensive end, I think that’s where I can be the linebacker. Go out there and make the plays. Be aggressive and try to bring that energy.’’

He already has some followers.

“No doubt, Kris is that defensive competitor,’’ power forward Bobby Portis said. “You see a guy like that poking at balls, diving around, making [opposing guards] work, that’s motivating. We loved having him on that second unit.

“Now he’s doing he’s thing [with the starters], and you definitely feel that intensity at the start of games. He’s that kind of presence out there.’’

Follow me on Twitter @suntimes_hoops.

Email: jcowley@suntimes.com

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