In his new backup role, guard Kris Dunn helps Bulls dismantle Hawks

Dunn found out earlier this week that he had lost the starting point-guard spot to Tomas Satoransky, but rather than mope over it, he’s headlining a defensive-minded second unit.

SHARE In his new backup role, guard Kris Dunn helps Bulls dismantle Hawks
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Kris Dunn has embraced his new role as the Bulls’ backup point guard.

Michael Conroy/AP

Coach Jim Boylen never finished the sentence.

He said Kris Dunn wasn’t going to let him.

“Before I could even get out the words, ‘Kris, I’m going to bring you off the bench to start the season,’ he had already said, ‘Coach, I’m going to do whatever you need me to do, and I’m ready for what you want me to do.’ Before I could even get it out,’’ Boylen said Thursday. “It was a two-minute conversation.

“I’ve always said he has great heart for the team. He’s always been very coachable, he accepts criticism and he owns his mistakes. His response is all about the team and what we’re trying to build. It’s role definition, and it’s role acceptance.’’

That “role acceptance’’ was apparent in the Bulls’ last dress rehearsal before the regular season, a 111-93 victory against the Hawks at the United Center.

Headlining a second unit that is focused on handcuffing the opposition, Dunn didn’t even need to score to have an impact, especially in the first half.

He harassed Hawks guard Trae Young whenever they were matched up to help the Bulls (2-3) take a 51-42 halftime lead and was a plus-13 with three steals, four rebounds and two assists. He finished with a plus-27 mark.

Dunn was more than satisfied with his new role.

While Boylen has opted to start Tomas Satoransky at the point with Zach LaVine, Otto Porter Jr., Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr., the second unit was built to play the role of stoppers.

“Absolutely,’’ Dunn said when asked about defense being the priority for that unit. “That’s what Coach wants us to do. And we gotta go out and achieve it. We’ve got a lot of good defensive pieces, and we have to use that to our strength.’’

The Hawks found that out.

Atlanta was resting a handful of players, but Dunn, Thaddeus Young, Coby White — who scored a game-high 29 points — Luke Kornet and Ryan Arcidiacono did a number on whoever was on the court, including a 20-5 spurt to start the fourth quarter that all but put the Hawks (1-4) on ice.

“There are going to be games where the starters come out flat, and the second unit is going to have to pick it up and allow them to come back in and finish the game,’’ Dunn said. “Just having depth is a good thing because injuries occur. You need backups you can trust.’’

Dunn has earned that trust and has accepted his role on the second unit with maturity.

“I’m a professional, as we all are in here,’’ Dunn said. “We have to approach it in a professional manner. I’m with the Bulls. I’m going to play hard each game and each practice and try to help the team win.’’

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