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Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn discuss brewing ‘tug of war’ as Bulls work to establish pecking order

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The Bulls’ young core will need a leader and hierarchy to be successful

NBA: Chicago Bulls-Press Conference David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

If this rebuild is going to be successful for the Chicago Bulls, Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen, and Kris Dunn will need to learn how to play effectively together.

The trio has a net rating of -24.3 in 183 minutes of playing time together this season. That obviously won’t stand moving forward.

Over at NBC Sports Chicago, Bulls insider Vincent Goodwill suggests that one of the three needs to force his way into a leadership role to iron out the problems.

Someone will have to take the lead for the Bulls and a pecking order must be established. This isn’t conflict that will lead to fisticuffs but competitiveness will overflow.

“It’s gonna be a tug of war, a tug and pull between somebody,” LaVine said to NBCSportsChicago.com Monday night. “That’s for us to figure out. It’s either with somebody’s play or mentality-wise; we have to be better with that.”

LaVine wants to take the reins.

”Can’t be friends with everybody,” LaVine said. “That’s just the way it is sometimes.”

Goodwill dismisses Markkanen as the guy to do this because of his less charismatic personality.

In Goodwill’s point of view, it comes down to LaVine and Dunn because they have the stronger and more vocal personalities and play the lead guard roles that traditionally commandeer the offense.

Together, Dunn and LaVine have a -20.7 net rating with an offensive rating of 97.5 and a defensive rating of 118.1 when they share the court together. They struggle to figure out who will captain the offense when both want to do it, but only one can.

Dunn’s value offensively is as a probing point guard who can set up his teammates for easy baskets. He averaged 7.7 assists per 36 minutes prior to LaVine’s return from injury, which was the 19th highest total in the NBA among players who played at least 20 minutes per game.

But with LaVine dominating the ball more since his return (30 percent usage), Dunn has often been relegated to off-the-ball duties, which isn’t ideal since he struggles shooting the ball.

It’s easy to see the problem but, for now, Dunn isn’t worrying about his struggles meshing with LaVine on the floor nor the leadership issue

It’s gonna come,” Dunn said. “It comes. I’ve been on plenty of teams like this. It comes. We’re young. We’re not trying to step on each other’s toes but eventually it will come.”

Right now, Dunn and LaVine cite youth as the reason for why a leader hasn’t emerged among the young players. That’s justifiable for now, but can’t be used as a crutch forever.

Goodwill posits with confirmation from Dunn and LaVine that the affable, encouraging current dynamic of the basketball communication between these young Bulls will eventually transition to the more tough love, hold them accountable sort as these players find their voices.

The reality is that Robin Lopez won’t prowl around the locker room forever, and one of these young kids will need to develop into a leader for this Bulls team to be successful.