Kris Dunn the latest to get extra work with the ‘shooting whisperer’
Subscribe for unlimited digital access
Try one month for $1!
The scouting report on Kris Dunn hasn’t changed much over the years.
“Struggles with the outside shot,’’ usually headlines the top of his weakness list.
“I mean that’s been the knock on me since I was in middle school,’’ Dunn said Tuesday with a smirk. “It doesn’t bother me at all. I can take any criticism. It doesn’t really matter to me.’’
What does matter to him is fixing it.
That’s where coach Fred Hoiberg comes in.
Playing shooting whisperer to Dwyane Wade last season, Hoiberg now has a new pupil in the classroom. He is working with Dunn on the fundamentals of his three-point shot almost since the first day the Bulls acquired the second-year point guard from the Timberwolves.
“There were a lot of things that we worked on with Dunn initially,’’ Hoiberg said. “His body position, he really leaned back, tilted his head back on his shot. Was inconsistent with his release point, was inconsistent with his finish as far as his footwork. Those things, it takes time, and it’s uncomfortable at first. When we first started working on his shot he didn’t shoot it well, but he talked about the consistency of it and if he stuck with it, it would get better.’’
In his rookie season with Minnesota, Dunn was a dismal 29 percent from beyond the arc, and 38 percent overall from the field. Through his first 22 games this season — 13 now as the starter — Dunn has shot 43 percent from the field, but an eye-opening 39 percent from three-point range, and that included an 0-for-4 showing Monday against the Celtics.
That’s why Hoiberg won’t let Dunn graduate from his own personal shooting school anytime soon.
“To his credit, he’s continued to work and he’s been diligent with that,’’ Hoiberg said. “And that’s what it takes. You have to get a lot of repetition, and to Kris’ credit he has worked hard on it.’’
Dunn, however, said he has been given a much longer rope to work with this season.
The rebuilding Bulls can deal with mistakes from their young players. There’s no punishment in minutes, especially on a developing team.
“I think Fred has been doing an unbelievable job, especially with me and the team,’’ Dunn said. “He allows me to play with freedom. I think that what coach [Ed] Cooley did when I was in college [at Providence] and my confidence helped me get comfortable. It allowed me to play through mistakes, and [Hoiberg’s] doing the same thing. It’s definitely beneficial to me.
“When someone gives you that freedom you try and play as hard as you can, and try not to make as many mistakes.’’
Dunn seems to be thriving in that environment, not only with his outside shot, either. In the 15 games he played in November, he averaged 3.2 turnovers. In six games in December, he is down to 2.3 turnovers.
More importantly for Dunn is the fact that the Bulls have now won three consecutive games, and his improved play is a reason why.
“We’re finally getting our chemistry together,’’ Dunn said. “We’re feeding off each other. We’re just going out there and playing with a little more toughness, a little more grit.’’
And a more consistent three-pointer doesn’t hurt.
Follow me on Twitter @suntimes_hoops.