When the Chicago Bulls decided to change course on draft night two years ago, it was clear as day who the main pieces of the rebuild were going to be.
Lauri Markkanen, Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn.
The three players the Bulls received in return for Jimmy Butler have been and will continue to be tasked to turn this organization around. The Bulls have added reinforcements since that trade in Wendell Carter Jr and now Otto Porter, seemingly rounding out the front office’s vision of the team’s next competitive starting five.
Still, looking at that list of five, even as arguably none of them are finished products, something feels missing. There are signs that John Paxson and Gar Forman feel that way, too.
Bulls VP John Paxson said on ESPN 1000 that the team has "four very good players" on the roster.
The four players are LaVine, Porter, Wendell, and Markkanen, per Paxson.
No Kris Dunn.
— Daniel Greenberg (@ChiSportUpdates) February 8, 2019
Could forgetting Dunn have just been a slip of the tongue?
“We still are evaluating Kris Dunn… letting Kris Dunn play, get experience and keep trying to become the player that he wants to become.”
That quote was from the same interview, it’s clear that Dunn is a step or two behind the others in the minds of management. There have been plenty of warning signs that this was the case, from trade rumors to draft scouting:
— 670 The Score (@670TheScore) February 7, 2019
In the interview above, KC Johnson says that the Bulls have been scouting Murray State point guard and projected top-5 pick Ja Morant extensively.
The fact of the matter is Kris Dunn has been disappointing. Yes, he’s dealt with some nagging injury issues that may go away, but so have LaVine and Markkanen. Yes, he’s dealt with three head coaches in three years, but LaVine has already had five coaches in five years and Markkanen’s on coach #2 in his sophomore campaign.
LaVine and Markkanen have shown the talent and production necessary to become really good players in this league through the same adversity Dunn has been through. Dunn has shown he belongs, but to what extent is unclear and “Kris Dunn, All-Star” looks more and more improbable with each passing game.
The Bulls have 27 games left, and as Paxson said, it’s time for Dunn to kick it up a notch or risk being replaced.