Bulls guard Kris Dunn needs to stay healthy … and stay off scorer’s tables
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It’s not the situation Kris Dunn wanted to be in.
On Sunday night, he was chasing down a loose ball, and his momentum forced him to leap onto the scorer’s table during the Bulls’ 128-116 exhibition victory against the Pelicans.
“When I did it, in my mind I said, ‘What the [expletive]! It’s a preseason game. Calm down,’ ’’ Dunn said. ‘‘I’ve only got one speed, and that’s to play hard, and I’m working on it. I want to play every night and make sure that I stay healthy.’’
He’s not alone in that department.
It’s a huge year for the Bulls’ big three — Dunn, Lauri Markkanen and Zach LaVine — but Dunn could be the most important element.
Coach Fred Hoiberg’s offense is predicated on his point guard quarterbacking the pace and space, so if Dunn doesn’t continue to improve in all facets of his game, Hoiberg might be back on the college coaching circuit sooner rather than later.
“[Dunn] is a very confident player right now,’’ Hoiberg said. “When we had our best streak in the middle of the year last year, Kris was the catalyst. And he was a huge part of the success that we had because of his defense. He was impacting the ball. He did a really good job of getting us set up on that end, and then his push and pace on the other end.
“It all starts with your point guard getting the ball out and getting guys to run with him. I think he’s done a better job of communicating this year as far as pulling the guys together. We’ve talked a lot about that. It’s kind of the next step in his career, to move into a leadership role where the communication has to be consistent every night.’’
He also has to be available every night, which was a problem last season.
Dunn injured a finger in camp, and the issue lingered into the regular season. Then just as he was on that December roll, he suffered a horrific fall, hitting his face on the floor so hard that his tooth indented the United Center court. After recovering, he had a bout with turf toe, which led to the Bulls shutting him down as they went into tank mode.
That’s why Dunn was questioning his sanity 15 hours after flying around in a preseason game and jumping on the scorer’s table.
“I hope there are no more fluke injuries,’’ Dunn said.
The Bulls can’t afford them because of the lack of depth behind Dunn. The unproven Cameron Payne is still there, but there’s not much beyond him.
General manager Gar Forman brought point guard Trae Young into the Advocate Center for a private workout and also was hot on the trail of Collin Sexton before the draft for a reason.
Dunn has the opportunity to show the front office that it made the right decision in sticking with him.
It’s not the easiest task: He has so many scorers to keep happy and also has to be the focal point of the defense.
“For me, I’m a pass-first point guard,’’ Dunn said. “I like getting assists, I like getting guys open and I like when my guys stay good.’’
Fine, now just stay off scorer’s tables. At least for the preseason.