So far, it’s been a nice bounce back season for Kris Dunn. No, he has not turned into a great shooter and playmaker or anything like that, but he has played to his strengths and found a role that suits his talents. Kris Dunn is one of the best perimeter defenders in the NBA. He has 101 steals this season, second only to Ben Simmons of the Philadelphia ‘76ers who has 104. Dunn has become an essential part of what the Bulls do on defense. Between Dunn’s defense and Zach LaVine’s incredible offense the Bulls have been able to stay on top of the heap of bad teams in the Eastern Conference. The Bulls are the best of the bad in the East, and Dunn’s defense has a lot to do with it. Which is why the news that he may have suffered a serious knee injury in Friday’s game against the Brooklyn Nets is just devastating for the Bulls.
Add Dunn to the list of walking wounded:
Otto Porter Jr, out indefinitely with a foot injury
Wendell Carter Jr, out for a few more weeks with an ankle injury
Lauri Markkanen, out for several more weeks with a bad pelvis
Kris Dunn, received an MRI on his knee yesterday, the diagnosis has yet to be shared
One bright spot, Daniel Gafford should be back from his thumb injury before the end of this week.
The Look Back:
It was another one win week for the Bulls. They went 1-2 this week and got their lone win on Monday night against the San Antonio Spurs, 110 – 109. A thrilling victory against another sub .500 opponent. The game came down to a pair of Zach LaVine free throws with 2 seconds left. Zach nailed them both, and the Bulls secured their 19th victory of the season.
Wednesday, the Bulls played in another thriller of a game against the Indiana Pacers. This game went to overtime and, unfortunately, resulted in a loss for Chicago. It was the first game back for Pacers’ star Victor Oladipo, and he made his return from injury triumphant by sinking a long three pointer with less than 10 seconds on the clock in regulation, tying the game and sending it to overtime. The Bulls played poorly at the end of the 4th quarter and throughout the extra 5 minutes of OT, allowing the Pacers to steal a 115 – 106 win.
Oladipo hit the deep three to force OT! 😮 pic.twitter.com/Q97SnDNmEn
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) January 30, 2020
Friday’s game against the Brooklyn Nets was the Kyrie Irving show. He dropped 54 points after Kris Dunn left the game with his injury. With Kyrie cooking, the Nets made it look easy: 133 – 118.
We learned this week that unless a player or two sit out the All-Star and Rising Stars games, the Chicago Bulls will not have a representative here in Chicago for All-Star weekend. Zach LaVine was left off the All-Star roster, Coby White and Daniel Gafford were left off the Rising Stars roster, and Wendell Carter Jr, who WAS named to the Rising Stars roster, will have to sit out due to his injury. There is still a chance that Zach or Coby could be asked to fill in as a substitute for an injured player, but this is just another embarrassing moment for the Bulls and their Front Office.
No players representing our team in the main All-Star events while the entirety of NBA Nation look on from your home court; Nice one GarPax.
There is still no word on whether or not LaVine will participate in the Dunk Contest or Three Point Contest. If LaVine competes in the Three Point Contest and wins, he will be the first player in NBA history to win both the Dunk and Three Point constests. Side note for fans of all things Chicago: Derrick Rose is set to compete in the Skills Challenge, and Jimmy Butler has made it to the 5th All-Star game of his career. Go Jimmy G. Buckets!
MVP of Week 15: The Injury Bug
I don’t know how it’s managed to do it for three straight seasons, but the consistency of it’s bite is the most impressive aspect of it all. The Injury Bug is undefeated when facing the Bulls Rebuild. We haven’t had a full season, hell, not even ½ of a season, where the Bulls have had they’re main players all healthy and on the floor together. The most annoying part of the constant injuries is that the Front Office and Coaching Staff use them as an excuse for the poor play and lack of development. The Injury Bug is extending the shelf life of GarPax and Boylen, and that ain’t good.
Anyone Interested in a Fire Sale?
Trade season is upon us, and it’s no secret that a couple Bulls players are on the block. Denzel Valentine and Thaddeus Young have both been frustrated with playing time this season, and while both have seen their playing time increase as the injuries have piled up for the Bulls, it’s no secret that both would like to move on. Thadd was told when he signed as a free agent that his role on the team was going to be different than what it has been, and it seems as though Valentine has spent the entire season in Jim Boylen’s dog house. I thought Kris Dunn would have been a great trade candidate as well, but his latest injury may have negated any value he had. Besides from hunting for trades for Young and Valentine, it might be a quiet trade deadline for the Bulls.
The Look Ahead:
The Bulls only have two games on the schedule this week.
Sunday, today, the Bulls take on the Toronto Raptors up north in Canada. The Bulls have not done well against the defending champs this season, and I don’t expect that to change this evening. I will be interested to see if the Bulls use Thadd Young to defend Pascal Siakam. Thadd has had success as a defender against Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Siakam is a similar player to Giannis in size and athleticism, not equal but similar. Maybe if Toronto sleepwalks through this game, Thadd shuts down Siakam, and LaVine or Coby catch fire the Bulls steal a win.
The last game of the week is at home on Thursday against Zion Williamson and the New Orleans Pelicans. Zion has given the Pelicans a real spark since his return from injury and mid-season debut. They’ve won their last three games, and look like they have a nice mix of young talent and veteran leadership along with a coach that knows when to call timeouts. The Bulls Front Office used to crow that the young talent acquired in the Jimmy Butler Trade put Chicago in front of other young rebuilding teams, that’s actually what happened when the Pelicans traded Anthony Davis and drafted Zion. I don’t think the Bulls win this game, but it could happen, and all it will take is some of that old Zach magic.
Until it happens, thanks for reading and GO BULLS!