These last 16 games mean something to point guard Kris Dunn.
He doesn’t care about lottery balls or tanking talk. That’s for others in the Bulls’ organization to lose sleep over.
Dunn has his own agenda to worry about.
“You never stop learning in this game,’’ Dunn said. “I’m trying to be something special.’’
Those are lofty words, but unlike many young players trying to make their mark in the NBA, Dunn is willing to put in the work to reach his goals.
Dunn’s film-watching already is well-documented. He’s the first to have the video guys cut up his game, so he can break down what went right and wrong.
It doesn’t stop there, however. His pursuit of greatness means re-visiting the past.
“Oh, yeah, for sure,’’ Dunn said of studying point guards from previous decades. “I like Gary Payton because Gary Payton was a bigger guard. Eric Snow . . . I like watching bigger guards. See how they take advantage on both ends of the floor. Baron Davis, he was a husky guard, and I like watching him.
“You gotta be a student of the game to be good in this league and figure out what works for you. That’s why these 16 games we have left are so important. I’m trying to figure out what works for me.’’
He’s off to a good start in his first season with the Bulls.
Since coming over in the Jimmy Butler draft-night trade, Dunn has taken the disappointment of his rookie season in Minnesota and flipped the script into something special.
Missing three weeks with a concussion in January and February threw his season off a bit, but it hasn’t changed his mission statement since suffering a bit of a humbling last season.
“My first season, I had a really good Summer League, so coming in I’m thinking I’m going to be the ‘it’ factor,’’ Dunn said. “Thought I was going to start right away, and then things didn’t unfold the way that I wanted them to. I didn’t get the minutes that I wanted, and I had to learn.
“All of my life I’ve been that guy. It’s not me being cocky or anything; it’s just me being in great situations to be that. This year coming in, I just got traded and I came in with a positive mind, but I came in to work. I came in to prove, to get my respect back and show people I belong in this league.
“Like I said, I’m trying to be something special. I know it’s not easy, and it’s going to take a lot of hard work, and I’ve shown plenty of times this year that when I’m working, and keep working, good things happen.’’
They did Sunday in Atlanta.
Dunn only scored 13 points in the Bulls’ 129-122 victory against the Hawks, but he had five assists and just one turnover to go along with three steals. Coach Fred Hoiberg will take that every night.
Dunn has much bigger goals, however.
Some All-Star guards are left on the schedule, and Dunn wants a shot at all of them.
“I haven’t been fortunate to be around some of the veteran point guards, and that’s why I like going against these elite players, going hard against them because I can pick up on those little things,’’ Dunn said. “I’m trying to instill things like that in my game. That’s what helps with longevity in this league.
“That’s how you become elite.’’
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