Kris Dunn’s case for Most Improved Player award

There has been a number of NBA players that have taken a giant leap with their game this season. How does Chicago Bulls guard Kris Dunn’s dramatic improvement stack up? 

Kris Dunn is out for the remainder of the season so there’s no need to wait for his player evaluation. Let’s get it rolling.

There are a number of players along with Kris Dunn who could take home this year’s Most Improved Player award, including Aaron Gordon, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Lou Williams, and run-away favorite – Victor Oladipo.

While I’m near 100 percent sure that Kris Dunn won’t actually win the award, let’s take a look at his improvement.

Opportunity 

Dunn only started in 43 games this season after dealing with a variety of minor injuries but he impressed everyone in his short first season with the Chicago Bulls.

After the Jimmy Butler trade, many were skeptical about the acquisition of Kris Dunn. The Bulls were banking part of their future on a guy who averaged 4 points, 2 assists, and 2 rebounds during his rookie season for a bad Minnesota Timberwolves team. Generally, that’s not too good.

But most of his rookie season let-downs can be chalked up to the lack of opportunity. Wolves Head Coach Tom Thibodeau isn’t exactly known for giving rookies their shot – and it showed with Dunn. He was a top-5 draft pick and still only played 17 minutes per game.

When he got moved to the Bulls, however, they gave him the keys to the car and let him drive it.

This season, Dunn averaged 13 points, 6 assists, and 4 rebounds. He also averaged 2 steals per game which is enough to tie him for fourth in the association.

Offensive Improvement 

Last season, when on the court, Kris Dunn struggled to make the right decisions with the ball in his hands. This year has been a different story. While he still struggles with turnovers, he’s averaging an impressive 6 assists per game. Dunn has been setting up teammates all season long and has been a huge contributor to the success of rookie Lauri Markkanen.

With a guy like Markkanen who plays extremely well off the ball, it’s important to have a point guard who can make the right reads and get him the ball in his spots early and often – Dunn has been doing an outstanding job of that this season.

It also seems like his confidence has taken a huge leap this season – and rightfully so. Watch him navigate his way through the defense for a nifty mid-range pull-up:

This is something that we didn’t see much of during his rookie year with the Wolves. This is Providence Kris Dunn, this is the Kris Dunn that was a top-5 NBA draft pick.

Defensive Improvement 

It’s tough to talk about Dunn’s improvement on the defensive end because I believe he was already an elite defender last season. But this is a good opportunity to talk about just how elite of a defender he is.

His on-ball perimeter defense is top-5 in the league in my opinion. Watch the way he moves his feet and stays in front of the ball-handler and finishes the play with an impressive block:

Dunn also has a knack for turning defense into offense which is a crucial element in today’s NBA game. Watch him read the pick-and-roll to perfection, creating a transition basket for the Bulls.

Sure he missed the layup, but his defense and transition game provided Markkanen with an opportunity to demonstrate one of his top-talents: ferocious put-back dunks.

Every elite NBA team has a player that can lock-down an opponent’s best scorer. And the good news for the Bulls is that Kris Dunn is already that guy.

While I’m fairly certain that Victor Oladipo will win this year’s Most Improved Player award, I would be surprised if Kris Dunn doesn’t finish in the top-3. Maybe if the Bulls had won more games he would have had a shot at winning the award because he’s improved just as much – if not more – than anyone in the league this season.

 

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