Bulls

Bulls PG Kris Dunn isn’t about to give up his starting spot without a fight

Kris Dunn is a “dawg.’’

Not D-O-G.

Those are for petting. It’s very important to differentiate the two.

No, the point guard reiterated that he’s a “dawg’’ when it comes to the court. And with that comes a subtle warning: Whoever thinks they are ready to take his starting spot this offseason — whether it’s a potential draft pick like Trae Young or a player on the roster like Cameron Payne — “they better be dawgs cause it will be a fight.’’

“I know that I’m not at my peak yet, and I’m real excited for the summer,’’ Dunn said. “I feel like I can improve tremendously. I’m confident in what I can do, and that’s not going to change.’’

RELATED STORIES
Hoiberg doesn’t get much help in blowout
LaVine could be shut down

It’s important to point out that the Bulls aren’t in the market for a point guard in the draft. The idea of Young or Alabama’s Collin Sexton being on the radar is not accurate. That’s just mock-draft conjecture.

The Bulls have concerns about Young, and he would have to change a lot of minds in private workouts and the pre-draft camp to be considered. Sexton has an edge the Bulls like, but he’s more of an off-guard.

A versatile forward/big man remains on the draft wish list, but if the lottery balls don’t bounce their way, would the Bulls grab Young or Sexton rather than reach for a small forward like Mikal Bridges or Miles Bridges? That remains to be seen.

Coach Fred Hoiberg has no questions about Dunn moving forward.

Hoiberg admitted that there are definitely areas Dunn needs to continue working on this summer — outside shooting and moving without the ball top that list — but he feels “he’s got a bright future with us.’’

“Well, we do feel really good about Kris, and the point of the schedule that I look at is when we were playing our best stretch in December and January, where Kris had really gotten into a good rhythm,’’ Hoiberg said. “We loved what we saw in that time frame. So just looking at that stretch where we were playing really good, as well as anybody in the Eastern Conference for that time period, Kris was as good as anybody on our roster.’’

The numbers back up Hoiberg, as Dunn averaged 14.9 points and 8.0 assists in December, and 14.7 points and 7.4 assists in January. Then came the concussion, almost five weeks of recovery, and now he is dealing with turf toe.

But for at least two months, Dunn proved to be a legit NBA point guard with a high ceiling.

While the second-year player didn’t need an endorsement from Hoiberg, he appreciated it.

“I put a lot of hard work in during the summer coming in, and I just try and play my role, play my role to the best of my ability, and when I’m playing, try and get as many wins as I can for the team,’’ Dunn said. “The situation I’m in, try and go as hard as possible just because of the situation I was in last year [in Minnesota].

“But it’s definitely good to hear Coach say that.’’

NOTE: Antonio Blakeney will miss the final 11 games with a non-displaced fracture in his left wrist. Blakeney played in 19 games, averaging 7.9 points and 1.7 rebounds.

Follow me on Twitter @suntimes_hoops.

Email: jcowley@suntimes.com