Bulls coach Jim Boylen is sold on Kris Dunn as his starting point guard
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Kris Dunn’s December was no mirage to coach Jim Boylen.
Since returning from a knee injury that sidelined him 24 games, Dunn has been sending an important message to the front office with his play.
“He’s been very focused and very serious,’’ Boylen said Wednesday. “We talk about having a laser focus on what we need to do. He has to try to lead us on the floor on both ends, be the head of our defense and help us get into our offense. He has the ability to do that, the skill level, and it’s just about the consistency with him. He knows it, we talked about it and he’s working at it.’’
Before his start against the Magic, Dunn had seven consecutive games of at least six assists, and in the 10 games he played in December, he averaged 13.9 points, 6.1 assists and 5.1 rebounds.
Boylen thinks Dunn can improve on those numbers as long as he maintains that focus and eliminates the careless plays.
“I’m happy with him,’’ Boylen said. “You know I always want more from everybody. I’ve said it before — my job is to push a guy to a place he can’t take himself. So he’s one of those guys I’m pushing every day. We watch film together and talk about situations. I try to ask him what he’s thinking. ‘What were you thinking here? What did you feel there? What did you think your options were there?’ That’s just kind of how we do it, and hopefully through that process he can grow.
“But I’m thankful he’s our point guard, and I’m thankful he’s healthy. He had a big year, too. He had a child [at the start of the season], and so, as we all know, that could help your sense of urgency, too.’’
Dunn wouldn’t acknowledge that he might be playing with a sense of urgency for a possible contract extension in the offseason.
“I don’t feel no pressure anymore,’’ Dunn said. “It’s basketball. If we go out there and do our thing, I think once all of us get our chemistry, it’s not just for the betterment of the organization but the betterment of the team. It’s all about the team. When you have three guys who can get it going, it’s hard to guard. It makes the pieces around even better.’’
Dunn did admit that while he enjoyed playing for former coach Fred Hoiberg, he’s fully committed to Boylen.
“He’s our coach,’’ Dunn said. “You have to listen to the coach. He wants the best for us. So you gotta do whatever he wants us to do.’’
Key reserve Bobby Portis (right ankle) still can’t go through a full-contact practice, but Boylen was hoping that could change soon, maybe even this week.
Portis, who has missed the last six games with his second significant injury of the season, has been rehabbing the ankle and making strides but hasn’t shown enough to allow the Bulls to come up with a more specific timetable for a return.
When Portis comes back, expect him to remain in his bench role even though he started four games when Lauri Markkanen was injured.