Since 'jamming' his ankle (and nobody on the team thinking much of it when it occurred), Mike Dunleavy has missed the past 10 games and the Bulls have gone 4-6. While Joakim Noah's concurrent absence has hurt a lot, Dunleavy has been mentioned almost as much.
It's almost to the point of excuse-making, because really: should Mike Dunleavy mean this much to the Bulls? In nearly 30 minutes a game he averages a shade under 10 points, with a PER of 11.8.
But it's not that crazy of a notion, because we have to consider who's taking those minutes. As deep as the Bulls roster is, there was always a concern with the wings. It's been the reason Jimmy Butler 'has' to be on the court at all times, and also why we see so many two-PG lineups, especially in closing moments.
The three guys who have seen the most increase in PT due to Dunleavy's absence have just not been able to come close. Here's how they've looked in the past 10 games, compared to Dunleavy's season so far.
|GP||MIN||NetRtg||AST%||AST Ratio||REB%||TO Ratio||eFG%||TS%||USG%||FGA||FG%||3PA||3P%||FTA||FT%|
What really jumps out is the shooting. Dunleavy isn't Kyle Korver, but he's a respected floor-spacer who takes and makes a lot of threes. It obviously makes a difference in the overall lineup production when those three-point makes are removed, we've already talked about how that impacts Jimmy Butler's room to work, and, I mean: just look at this.
This how you are guarded when the Cavs don't respect your ability to hit the corner 3. pic.twitter.com/CHj4WZ9Y6G— CBE Fred (@cbefred) January 20, 2015
Another potential takeaway is that E'Twaun Moore may be the best of some bad options here. It's a small sample given how sparingly he plays, but for all of how much Hinrich is lauded as a 'caretaker' it's actually Moore who is doing a much better job playing mistake-free. Moore's been an average 3-point shooter in the past but has not taken as many as a Bull, and that should probably change as well.
We've seen Moore struggle when playing the point, but that's fine as we're talking about Dunleavy's SG minutes, where Kirk moves to emergency-PG role only. Tony Snell has at least scored this month (unlike December) but is still pretty terrible, and I think Thibs agrees.
We're also starting to see how valuable Dunleavy is as a defender. Snell looks like he should be good but hasn't shown it. Hinrich has lost a step or five, and especially since returning from his own leg injury is looking more fatigued earlier in games than ever. Moore, again, looks to be worth more of a look as he appears to try (though we could say the same about Snell).
Again, it's the replacements that matter just as much as Dunleavy himself when it comes to assessing value. Nikola Mirotic has taken some minutes at SF (less so now that Noah is out) but he's been totally abysmal in this same stretch (31% overall, 23% from three).
Dunleavy's been listed as 'questionable' for tonight's matchup against the Spurs, and his return is not a moment too soon. But the Bulls should maybe look for an outside acquisition to make sure so much isn't riding on a 34-year old.