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Tomas Satoransky looks primed to win starting PG job while Kris Dunn falters, Coby White impresses vs. Pacers

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Friday’s game was telling

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NBA: Preseason-New Orleans Pelicans at Chicago Bulls Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

When the Bulls acquired Tomas Satoransky in the offseason, the general belief was that he was going to be the starting point guard in 2019-20. Jim Boylen and the Bulls made a point to say there would be a competition in training camp with Kris Dunn and to a lesser extent Coby White, but I always figured Satoransky would get the job.

While Boylen started Dunn in the first preseason game against the Bucks, he then went with Satoransky against the Pelicans. Satoransky wasn’t all that impressive against Milwaukee and struggled to start against New Orleans, but he quickly found his groove (11 points, eight assists, five rebounds) alongside the other starters as the Bulls’ offense exploded on Wednesday night. Meanwhile, Dunn was largely invisible against the Pelicans after a relatively solid opener against the Bucks in which he had 11 points on 5-of-8 shooting plus three assists and three steals.

After the Pelicans game, K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago wrote that all signs were pointing to Boylen picking Satoransky as the starter, and the Bulls coach seemingly telegraphed this decision by sitting the 27-year-old along with the rest of the starters for Friday night’s 105-87 loss to the Indiana Pacers.

This did give Dunn an opportunity to make a statement, but he largely failed. While the guard continued to show his playmaking chops on the defensive end with six steals, he was a disaster offensively, scoring eight points on 4-of-9 shooting while turning the ball over a whopping seven times to only two assists. The 25-year-old is 1-of-6 from 3, hasn’t attempted a free throw and has more turnovers than assists in the preseason.

As Dunn struggled offensively, White’s aggressiveness shined through again. While his shot selection can be generously characterized as ambitious and his playmaking is almost nonexistent right now, the rookie did pour in 24 points on 10-of-22 shooting and 4-of-9 from 3-land. It’s easy to make jokes about all the shots with zero assists (trust me, I’ve done it already), but I do appreciate him stepping up to the challenge with the main guys sitting and playing aggressive. He also grabbed eight rebounds and had zero turnovers as part of his big night:

White hasn’t shied from the moment at all this preseason when it comes to looking for his own shot. The result has been some forced jumpers and out-of-control drives. He’s likely going to struggle to be efficient and is clearly a work in progress when it comes to being a point guard, but this is something I expected coming into the season. Once the game slows down a bit for him, we should see him making better decisions and hopefully making his teammates better. At the very least, his speed and aggressiveness should be an asset at times as the Bulls look to run and gun.

With White’s aggressiveness showing through, Dunn really just needs to focus on being a defensive menace while limiting mistakes on the offensive end as long as he’s on this team. He seems to recognize this.

Via Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic:

“I went out there and made a couple of defensive plays,” Dunn said. “That’s my role right now on the team. I want to definitely cut down the turnovers. Good thing it’s preseason, so you can get comfortable and find your rhythm.”

Dunn sees the writing on the wall when it comes to his role, and hopefully he’ll embrace it like he says he will. Otherwise, the Bulls have other guys like Ryan Arcidiacono and Shaquille Harrison who could potentially take some of his playing time.