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Kris Dunn - Starting Point Guard, Finishing Point Guard, Or Both?

Before the All-Star break, the Bulls experienced the changing of the forward with Bobby Portis and Jabari Parker traded to the Washington Wizards for Otto Porter Jr.

As the Bulls Monday prepare to play the Milwaukee Bucks, there’s a question of whether it’s becoming a changing of the guard.

If it matters more who finishes than who starts, as players and coaches so often say, then it’s a big deal that Kris Dunn was replaced by Wayne Selden Jr. late in Friday’s win in Orlando and sat out virtually the entire fourth quarter for Ryan Arcidiacono in Saturday’s victory over the Boston Celtics.

Beyond that, the onetime No. 5 overall pick in the NBA draft, currently the second highest drafted player on the Bulls roster after Porter, is going through the poorest stretch of his Bulls career and on a downward spiral since returning from a knee injury in December.


The lanky 6-4 Dunn is averaging a credible 11.4 points and 6.3 assists for the season, the latter which would rank 15th in the NBA if he had played enough games. But Dunn’s production has been in decline, which is a red flag for teams. Players are generally expected to improve throughout the season, especially players returning from injury. Dunn averaged 13.9 points in December, 11.2 in January and now just 8.4 points per game in February, shooting 39 percent and 23 percent on threes. Dunn never has been a good perimeter shooter, but even his aggression seems to have waned. He has attempted four total free throws this month, all in one game despite averaging more than 30 minutes per game.

Coach Jim Boylen has been supportive of Dunn, and said Saturday night after Dunn sat for just the last seconds of the game that, “Kris is all for the team; Kris gets it. Some nights it will be his night.” But it seems apparent that part of the coach’s All-Star break study involved considering Dunn’s play because point guard is perhaps the game’s most important position in this era. Half of the top 10 scorers in the league are their team’s primarily ballhandlers. It’s perhaps also one reason why Boylen in recent weeks has emphasized multiple ball handler play with Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen and now Porter bringing the ball into the front court. The results have been impressive offensively. The Bulls are seventh in scoring since the trade, fifth in shooting, eighth in three-point percentage and sixth in overall offensive rating.

In Saturday’s victory, Arcidiacono played the entire fourth quarter and Dunn just 42 seconds. It was another, hustling defensive game for Arcidiacono, who leads the Bulls in charges taken, chairs pulled (the defensive trick to draw a travel in a post mismatch) and is third overall in the NBA in assist to turnover ratio.

“He’s a tough, competitive kid,” Boylen said after the game about closing with Arcidiacono. “He had made shots early in the game. I felt like we were going to have to make a big shot. We were going to have to score more and the way he shot the ball and had control of the game, I thought it was a good sub for us.”

Arcidiacono has been a good sub and one of the true surprises in the NBA in rising from the depths.

He averages just 5.7 points and 3.5 assists, but undrafted out of Villanova he spent two years in the G-league and seemed destined for a career overseas with limited athleticism. But his tenacity and perseverance enabled him to elbow his way onto the Bulls roster in preseason. And with the faster style the Bulls have played the last month, he’s fit well with his determination to push the ball and ability to make three-point shots, two of three Saturday.

“With time playing under coach and getting Otto acclimated with the offense and the way Zach and Lauri are playing, we’re flowing

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