Bulls glad to have Kris Dunn back soon, but what are his long-term prospects?
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Point guard Kris Dunn’s comeback game is still up in the air.
Bulls coach Jim Boylen said Thursday that Dunn (left knee) participated in a full-contact practice, but there was still no guarantee that he’d play against the Thunder.
A matchup against Russell Westbrook at the United Center on Friday night would be an audition for Dunn as much as a return to action.
The Bulls can extend Dunn’s rookie contract after this season, thereby committing to him as a key piece in their rebuild.
Management has gone out of its way to extol Dunn’s value, but those words haven’t necessarily been matched by its actions.
The Bulls brought point guard Trae Young to the Advocate Center before the draft for a private workout, and on the night of the draft, the brain trust debated taking big man Wendell Carter Jr. or point guard Collin Sexton.
Carter won out, and the Bulls again insisted that Dunn was their guy.
“I envision him being a top defender in the league, a guy that can dominate his matchup at the defensive end,’’ Boylen said. “I envision him being a downhill, attack-mode point guard. And I envision him being a closer, which at times last year he closed for us with his playmaking and his ability to get downhill, so that’s what I hope.
“He had a serious injury, and it’s going to take some time. We talked about being war-dogs on the road. He’s a guy that can be a war-dog for us.’’
Before a freak accident at the rim Jan. 17 against the Warriors resulted in Dunn falling on his face and being sidelined last season, he had averaged 14.9 points and 8.0 assists in December. And in the nine games he played in January, he was averaging 14.7 points and 7.4 assists.
It was that playmaking and those assist numbers that had the Bulls excited.
They want a scoring point guard because that’s the nature of the position. But with Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen as more than capable scorers, the Bulls prefer a playmaker first.
That’s why they were so enamored with Young.
Young has the ridiculous shooting range, but it was his court vision and playmaking that seduced the Bulls before the draft.
But Dunn also has an intangible that can’t be overlooked: toughness. The former high school football player has a fearlessness about him that Boylen is demanding from all of his players.
Maybe if Dunn hadn’t injured his knee in his season debut Oct. 22 against the Mavericks, Fred Hoiberg would still have a coaching job, especially with vice president of basketball operations John Paxson citing a lack of “spirit and energy’’ as a reason Hoiberg was canned.
Spirit and energy ooze from Dunn.
“When it comes to toughness, I think you’re born with it,’’ Dunn said. “Either you got it or you don’t.’’