Bulls’ roster at the All-Star break: The Kris Dunn dilemma and the backcourt
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The Bulls would like everyone to believe that with 24 games left, they still haven’t made up their minds about Kris Dunn.
But that’s not entirely true.
The Bulls have a “core group’’ moving forward, but rather than being part of it, Dunn has been moved quietly to the fringe. Can that change when the team returns from the All-Star break? Sure, rebuilds are fluid.
What won’t change, however, is that adding a point guard will be a point of emphasis this offseason, whether via the draft or free agency.
The Sun-Times reported two weeks ago that the Bulls are focused on scouting veteran point guards who will be free agents — and fiscally responsible — headlined by the likes of Ricky Rubio and Darren Collison.
At the very least, the Bulls want Dunn to be pushed heading into training camp next fall, especially considering they have to start making financial decisions on where he fits in the rebuild moving forward.
Can he run a team as a starter or is Dunn a career backup, capable of coming off the bench and disrupting opposing offenses?
Currently, he’s neither with all of the injuries he has been dealing with, the latest being a back injury that forced him to miss the victory against the Grizzlies on Wednesday.
And that’s the big problem with the former fifth overall pick from the 2016 draft.
Last season when he missed games, it was felt. This season? Backup Ryan Arcidiacono only scored two points against the Grizzlies, but his decision-making was impeccable, he put individual players in positions to succeed offensively, and he finished with 11 assists and just one turnover.
Yes, Otto Porter shot a ridiculous 16-for-20 from the field while Lauri Markkanen and Robin Lopez combined for 46 points, but the offense looked as smooth as it had all season.
Are all the injuries catching up with Dunn? Do opposing teams now have enough film on him to make adjustments? Either way, what Dunn showed last season was much better than where he is now.
“The difference maybe is that I don’t think he’s been as consistent this year in his play,’’ coach Jim Boylen said. “I think you’ve got to understand time, score and possession, which he’s trying to do. When we need a bucket, when we’ve got to get something done, when it’s time. We can’t go down the floor four, five times in a row and not get a bucket without getting something solid. I can’t call timeout every time and get us reorganized. He’s got to do that. He knows that.’’
So what is the current state of the Bulls’ backcourt? It’s very incomplete.
A perfect backup who brings toughness, decision-making and some occasional outside shooting. Definitely a player to move forward with as the Bulls build a bench.
With Boylen emphasizing defense,
Blakeney is not a fit beyond this season. He has too many shoot-first, ask-questions-later moments.
The way he has played this season, he’s a poor man’s Patrick Beverley, poised to play 10 more years as a backup who brings defense off the bench.
He’ll likely be pushed out in a numbers game if the Bulls add guards, but the organization does like what Harrison has done.
Is he worth the four-year, $78-million the Bulls paid him in the offseason? Debatable. But his playmaking and scoring definitely make him a key piece of the rebuild. They had no choice but to match the Kings’ offer.
When healthy, he is an outside threat, a playmaker and a strong defender, but that’s only when he’s healthy.