The Bulls are well-versed in the dangers of forecasting a ceiling on one of their players.
Call that the Jimmy Butler phenomenon.
Butler went from the last pick of the first round of the 2011 draft to benchwarmer to All-Star to All-NBA. It is a meteoric climb not seen very often, but also a reminder of how hard work can pay off.
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So when asked about Kris Dunn’s ceiling Tuesday, coach Fred Hoiberg obviously wasn’t going to ignore history.
“Yeah, I think as Kris’ confidence continues to grow, his game will get better,’’ Hoiberg said. “He’s a kid who has good physical tools with his length and athleticism.’’
More importantly, Dunn is still a work in progress.
The main priority is getting Dunn back on the court. That could happen Wednesday when the Bulls host the Raptors in their final game before the All-Star break.
Dunn, who has been out with a concussion after landing on his face in a loss to the Warriors on Jan. 17, participated in practice and was expected to be a game-time decision. That is good news, considering the Bulls were 3-8 in their 11 games without him.
Dunn also has a chance to participate in the Rising Stars Challenge on Friday in Los Angeles.
“We’ll be careful with it,’’ Hoiberg said. “It’s good to just have him out here in practice. Competitiveness goes up because of his drive.’’
It is that same drive that makes Dunn hard to gauge.
There’s no doubt that he had a tough rookie season with the Timberwolves. The fifth overall pick quickly learned how inexperienced he was on the offensive end. Factor that in with an inconsistent outside shot, and it was no wonder that Dunn looked lost.
Dunn has improved on the offensive side, especially on his outside shot, since coming over in the Butler trade. Hoiberg has worked with him on being more balanced when he shoots, and it is no coincidence that his three-point field-goal percentage has improved from .288 as a rookie to .324 in his second season.
But Hoiberg was asked if Dunn could ever be an effective outside shooter. Hoiberg admitted a lot of work remains to be done.
“I think everybody can always make improvements,’’ Hoiberg said. “With Kris, the biggest issue we felt he had was just his balance and body position. Something where he’s become much more consistent, but he still needs work. There’s no issues with Kris’ work ethic.’’
It starts with being available to put the work in, which Dunn hopes is the case after he missed the first four games of the season with a dislocated finger before his extended absence from the concussion.
“I tell people all the time that I got hurt more in basketball than I did in football,’’ Dunn said. “It’s kind of weird to me. All of them have been freak accidents. So I’m not too worried about it. If they were all minor injuries, then I’d have to look at my body. But they’ve all been freak accidents. You just have to get through it. It better be enough.’’
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