Jerian Grant’s monumental struggles Saturday night, Kris Dunn’s return from injury, and Kay Felder’s marginalized presence on the roster has turned the Chicago Bulls point guard spot into an open competition. Heck, will Cameron Payne magically rise from his scooter and win a job???
Jokes aside, The Athletic’s new Bulls beat writer Darnell Mayberry sized up the Bulls point guard competition in a must-read column today. He came to the decisive conclusion that the Bulls must start Kris Dunn moving forward.
Part of that case is on-ball defense, and definitely check out the article and watch the numerous clips Mayberry uses to illustrate his point.
Outside of Dunn, their best perimeter pests are Felder and David Nwaba, role players who are both limited for different reasons. It’s no coincidence that Chicago ranks last in forcing turnovers (11.6 per game) and second-to-last in steals (5.4 per game).
There’s also the interesting delineation Mayberry makes between Dunn’s work as a “playmaker” versus Grant’s as a “distributor”:
[Grant’s] spent these first five games making the routine play — a pick-and-pop here, a screen-and-roll pass there. He’s executed fairly well on set plays and looks comfortable making the extra pass when appropriate. While his raw stats look decent, Grant’s not doing anything special in the way of generating offense or getting his teammates open shots.
The Bulls can be much better, which is where Dunn comes in. Unlike Grant, who thrives on predetermined plays, Dunn is more adept at orchestrating plays.
The reason Grant is a good playmaker segways into Mayberry’s next point: showing Dunn as more adept at simply getting to the basket.
I’m just going to build off Mayberry’s analysis a little bit. According to NBA.com, Dunn drove the ball to the basket 12 times against Oklahoma City. Unfortunately, he was 1-for-6 shooting on those drive attempts and generated just one assist off those 12 drives.
Was Dunn’s aggressiveness on Saturday an anomaly or something that he has really tried to work into his game? Time will tell. It was just one game, and one where time was spent mostly with the score hopelessly out of reach. Last season, Dunn averaged just 1.8 drives per game and shot just 40 percent and recorded an assist on just 7.9 percent of these drives. His usage percentage last season with Minnesota was 14.2 percent and he played 17.1 minutes per game. Obviously, he’d have a much bigger role here.
Obviously, Dunn needs to be more efficient at finishing around the rim. But given the Bulls disaster of a half-court offense thus far this season (Hoiball is the worst offense in the league), having a player who can break down a defense, get to the rim, and generate open attempts for his teammates is extremely useful.