Kris Dunn wreaked havoc on opposing players all season long, and should be awarded a spot on the All-Defensive first-team. Dunn quietly had his most impressive season, despite posting subpar numbers in most statistical categories. He’s cemented himself as a bonafide lockdown defender, capable of pestering opposing players for 94ft. Dunn has been so outstanding on the defensive end that he deserves a spot on the All-Defensive first-team.
The former fifth overall pick spent the first three years of his career unaware of what kind of player he should be. He was traded after his rookie campaign with the Timberwolves, and never truly found his offensive stride.
Fortunately, Dunn recalled the defensive prowess that made him a two-time Big East Defensive Player of the Year at Providence. He’s found his niche in the league, and has already propelled himself into elite defensive company.
Let’s take a look at why Dunn should be awarded a spot on the All-Defensive first-team.
Stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com
Tenacious Individual Defense
Despite being only 6’3, Dunn has shown the ability to guard positions one through three – and the occasional undersized four. He relishes the opportunity to guard the league’s top players, as he ranks in the 96th percentile with respect to matchup difficulty amongst guards, according to BBall Index.
The former Providence star is exceptional when it comes to hounding perimeter players. He ranks second in the league in steals per game (2.0), fourth in total steals (101), and fourth in deflections per game (3.7). Moreover, Dunn is seventh in steal rate (34.1%) and leads the NBA in steal percentage (3.8). His steal percentage is the highest since Tony Allen in 2014; reminiscent of Allen, Dunn is exceptional at wreaking havoc on opposing ball handlers.
Spearheading the Bulls’ Defense
The Chicago Bulls had another underwhelming season, riddled with injuries and coaching turmoil. However, one of the few bright spots of their year was the emergence of Dunn as a defensive maestro. When he was inserted into the starting lineup for the month of December, the Bulls went .500 and skyrocketed to second in defensive rating. His fervor on defense also catapulted Chicago to first in the league in opponents turnovers – they led by a significant margin.
For the season, when Dunn is on the floor the Bulls have a 103.6 defensive rating (3rd in the NBA), but when he’s off they have a rating of 110.4 (18th in the NBA). Chicago is 6.8 points per 100 possessions better on defense when Dunn is playing.
The advanced metrics for Kris Dunn also attribute to the profound impact he has on his teams defense. He has a 2.92 Defensive Player Impact Plus-Minus, which ranks him fifth in the NBA and first amongst guards. Moreover, he has a 4.2 defensive RAPTOR, which puts him at fourth in the league and second amongst guards. Defensive RAPTOR is a plus/minus stat that explains how a player impacts their team’s defense per 100 possessions.
Although the numbers support Dunn being on the All-Defensive first-team, the eye-test does as well. He not only invigorates his teammates to play harder, but also reacts to subtle offensive nuances that opposing teams employ. He reads defensive schemes for the other players on the floor, and blitzes pick and rolls effectively – allowing his teammates to properly recover.
Competition for the All-Defense Team
There are only two guard spots on the All-Defensive first-team, but since Ben Simmons is one of the favorites for DPOY, he will occupy one of them. Marcus Smart, on the other hand, is a player legitimately competing with Dunn for that final spot.
Smart has earned the reputation as one of the league’s most blue-collar players, willing to put his body on the line and defend whomever you ask him to. This season he’s guarded everyone from Kawhi to Antetokounmpo, and has done so valiantly. However, his impact defensively does not eclipse Dunn’s.
Smart is leading the Celtics to the fourth best defense in the league, whereas Dunn is anchoring the third best. However, the Celtics guard is doing so with a multitude of reliable defenders around him. Jayson Tatum and Jalen Brown have been consistent all year on defense – Brown is even emerging as one of the league’s best two-way players. Moreover, Daniel Thies has proven he can handle his own against the best centers in the league.
Dunn Carries More Weight
Kris Dunn is leading the Bulls’ defense with players such as Lavine and Satoransky as his fellow wing defenders. Lavine is one of the most electrifying players in the league but seldom produces on the defensive end. Although Wendell Carter Jr. was supposed to be their enforcer down low, he’s missed a significant amount of games due to injury.
Most of the stats are Dunn over Smart as well. The Bulls guard has a defensive box plus/minus of 3.1, compared to Smart’s 1.3. Dunn is also having a historic season stealing the basketball.
Kris Dunn has not only found his niche in the NBA but has led the Bulls to one of the most stifling defenses in the league. His numbers and overall tenacity say All-Defensive first-team. So, regardless of whether he makes it or not, we can expect Dunn to wreak havoc on ball-handlers for years to come.