While bash brothers Nikola Mirotic and Bobby Portis have captured all the headlines, it’s been the play of point guard Kris Dunn that has quietly powered the Chicago Bulls seven-game winning streak.
During the streak Dunn has stuffed the stat sheet, averaging 16.6 points on 46.2 percent from the field, 4.9 rebounds, and 7.4 assists.
ESPN writer Zach Lowe (who cursed the Bulls) eloquently notes this in his weekly edition of ‘Ten Things I Like and Don’t Like.’ What has been going right for the Bulls second-year point guard during this stretch? Well, according to Lowe, it’s been all about how Dunn has attacked pick-and-rolls.
Dunn is launching with confidence when defenders give him the Rondo treatment. He's getting better at leading his defenders into picks -- a must-have bit of craft. He fakes away from screens with a cruel shoulder shimmy, gets his defender leaning that way, and then zooms back toward the pick -- with his defender trailing, flat-footed, about to get slammed.
Once he's established the threat of that crisscross, Dunn hits opponents with the opposite counter -- feint toward screens, and then jet away from them:
Dunn is shooting the ball at a 39.3 percent clip from 10-16 feet from the basket (26.9 percent in his rookie season) and at a 43.3 percent clip 16 feet from the basket to the 3-point line (34.8 percent in his rookie season). These numbers are relevant because Dunn has responded to defenders going under screens and sagging off of him with a much improved mid-range game which has multiplied his attacking options and his overall effectiveness in the pick-and-roll.
Lowe also notes Dunn’s ball-hawking defense. During the seven-game winning streak, Dunn has averaged 2.4 steals per game and is fourth in the NBA in steals per game (2.04) for the whole season.
With every steal, splashed mid-range jumper, hard drive with an athletic finish, or wowing assist, Dunn is slowly forcing Bulls fans to do a double take on their evaluation of the trade that brought him to Chicago in June.