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Kris Dunn playing the hero against Philadelphia. Photo from dailyherald.com

With the dramatic 117-115 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers, the Bulls have now won 6 games in a row! That’s 4 more in a row than I expected this season. Panic is setting in among fans expecting a high 1st round draft pick this summer. As I discussed in my last blog post, Niko Mirotic and Bobby Portis have been the spark, that has lit a fire, that is burning the “tank” down. But the real hero of the streak (not the hero Bulls fans want, but the hero we deserve) has been Kris Dunn.

Dunn still has a good deal to learn and improve upon when it comes to basketball, but these last six games have made me a believer. In one of my earliest blogs this season (The Needle in the Haystack: Finding Leaders on a Young Roster) I claimed Kris Dunn as “my guy,” the player I thought was going to break out and become the leader of the team. I’m not sure if Dunn has reached the level of team leader just yet, but his clutch play over the last month, consistently hitting big baskets at critical moments, has made him the go-to guy late in the game.

Kris Dunn has show consistent growth over the course of this season. He has improved his ball handling skills, his understanding of the offense, his pick-and-roll play, his shooting, etc… He has made some very large strides as a second year NBA player. The addition of his “clutchiness” over the past month has made him even more valuable to this young roster. His confidence is at an all time high right now, helping Dunn power through any little mistake he might make. It will be interesting to see how he handles the inevitable collapse, when his shot isn’t falling, and the team isn’t winning, and when every turnover he makes leads to disaster, that will be the real test for the point guard of the future. How will Kris Dunn respond when he returns to earth?

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Kris Dunn-pensive at a recent press conference. Photo by chicagotribune.com

Roster Notes

Lauri Markkanen missed a few games this last week with back spasms. He was back from his back on Monday, helping his team (10 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists) beat the 76ers. Lauri hit an important 3 pointer from the corner, drawing the Bulls to within 3 points of Philadelphia and setting up the dramatic Mirotic/Dunn take over in the last 4 minutes of the game.

Cristiano Felicio has been spending time with the G-League Windy City Bulls. After signing a 4 year contract this summer, it is probably very humbling for the big man to be sent down to the minors. Hopefully he will regain some confidence and return to the Bulls with a renewed focus and hunger.

The Bulls released point guard Kay Felder on Tuesday. I like Felder and I’m disappointed that he was released. I guess he didn’t show Hoiberg enough to earn a roster spot on the Bulls. Maybe he’ll find a team that is better suited to his play style. The move opens up a roster spot which could be used to bring Antonio Blakeney back from the Windy City Bulls, or the return of Zach Lavine and Cameron Payne from injury.

Blog Scheduling Notes

With Christmas and New Years quickly approaching, I have decided to take a couple weeks off from posting Bulls thoughts. I will be busy with family celebrations and traveling, I hope you are too. Rest assured, if Bulls news breaks I will probably react in a post, but other than that you can expect my next official blog post to be on Wednesday, January 3rd, 2018.

Merry Christmas! Happy New Year! Go Bulls!

YAMAXMAS

The Worst Records in the NBA:

1. Atlanta Hawks: 7-23 .233

2. Dallas Mavericks: 8-23 .258

3. Memphis Grizzlies: 9-21 .300

4. Chicago Bulls: 9-20 .310

5. Sacramento Kings: 10-20 .333