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Kris Dunn needs to show more consistency

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A real nice stretch has been followed up by awful play and a late benching

NBA: Chicago Bulls at Utah Jazz Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

Kris Dunn is one of the key pieces of the Jimmy Butler trade and the Bulls’ latest attempt at finding their Point Guard Of The Future. After being largely terrible (at least offensively) in his rookie season with the Minnesota Timberwolves, the 23-year-old has been a mixed bag for the Bulls in his second season.

Dunn missed the first four games of the year with a finger injury and naturally scuffled with his shooting upon his return. He shot 38 percent overall and 29 percent from 3 over his first five games. Then came two strong games in which he averaged 15.5 points on 15-of-29 shooting. Then came a truly horrific performance against the Thunder in which he made only one of his 11 field goal attempts. Then came his two best games of the year against the Hornets (22/7/5/3) and Suns (17/6/6/2).

It was at this point that Dunn was finally inserted into the starting lineup over a scuffling Jerian Grant ... and the young guard promptly struggled again. Since his insertion into the starting lineup, Dunn has shot 11-of-40 from the field and committed more turnovers (15) than assists (14).

Dunn’s most recent performance was an 0-of-6 disaster against the Heat that featured him getting benched for the more effective Grant for most of the second half. Dunn not only hurt himself with his poor shooting, but also with two awful turnovers to start the second half:

Careless turnovers have been the bane of Dunn’s existence. He’s averaging nearly as many turnovers (3.3 per game) as assists per game (3.9) on the season. His 17.2 turnover ratio is third-highest in the league among guards playing over 20 minutes per game, per NBA.com. Guys who handle the ball a lot will have their share of turnovers, but they’re not as palatable when you’re not producing in other areas.

Thanks to Dunn’s most recent shooting slump, he’s under 40 percent shooting for the season. His 3-point shooting is at a respectable 35.5 percent, but it’s hard to say he’s much of a threat out there. He still has some extremely ugly misses and is erratic.

Furthermore, Dunn struggles in the paint and doesn’t get to the free-throw line. He’s 32-of-79 (40.5 percent) on shots in the paint and just over 52 percent at the rim. His .100 free-throw rate ranks in the bottom 10 of high-minute guards (Denzel Valentine is even worse), per Basketball-Reference.com. That just doesn’t cut it for a lead guard. This all adds up to a wretched 44.6 true shooting percentage, which has him in Marcus Smart territory. (Lonzo Ball and De’Aaron Fox also have terrible true shooting percentages, but they’re much younger.)

Not everything is bad. Dunn is a good rebounder for his position and a legitimate playmaker on defense. He’s second in STL% among guards behind Chris Paul and can be an on-ball disruptor when he’s locked in. The Bulls are better defensively with him on the floor. He can likely carve out a long career based on his defense alone.

But if he’s going to be a true difference-maker for the Bulls as they rebuild, his offense is going to have to get significantly better. Even if his outside shooting is never great, he can be more effective by finishing better around the rim, getting to the line more and cutting down on the turnovers. He does generally play with a better pace than Grant, but the Bulls are actually scoring slightly more efficiently with Grant on the court (still awful, though).

Dunn needs to remain the starter, and Fred Hoiberg said after Dunn’s Heat debacle that this would be the case. Grant has had a couple good games in a row, but we know by now that he’s not a good starting point guard in this league. Grant is a capable reserve and a decent fill-in starter. That’s about it.

Dunn isn’t good yet either, but there’s more potential to unlock. Just how much is still a question, though, because he’ll already be 24 by the end of this season. I wouldn’t bet on him ever becoming a star, but he can be an effective role player with improvement. While that’s not exciting and maybe even disappointing, the Bulls need to collect as many legitimate NBA players as possible as they rebuild.