The outside shooting ability of veteran free-agent acquisition Mike Dunleavy Jr. was the most obvious reason the Bulls signed him, but his underrated passing and overall knowledge of the game should also benefit the team.
It’s no coincidence that Dunleavy has a high basketball I.Q., given that his father is a former NBA player, coach and general manager.
Thibodeau revealed that he’s acquainted with Mike Dunleavy Sr. and believes the son’s background has helped shape his game.
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“I do know his dad well. Obviously being in the league a long time, he’s been around the pro game his whole life, so I think that’s a big plus. His dad is a great coach, terrific player, so I think he’s benefited from that. He’s been in an NBA arena since he was a little kid, so I think he understands the game. He’s got a great feel for the game and I like the way he passes the ball. The shooting part, that’s obvious. You can see that, but I think his passing is a big plus for us also because whenever you can add passing to your team, it makes everyone better,” Thibodeau said. “I think you’re exposed to different things and I think in some ways, it is an advantage. I think players benefit from great coaching, so that’s part of what we look at—who did they play for, where have they been, have they been in winning programs—and when you’re the son of a coach, sometimes it allows you to spend more time in a gym and to see it from not only a player’s perspective, but also from a coach’s perspective and I think from a coach’s perspective, often times, you’re looking at the entire team, not necessarily just what your job is, so that’s an advantage in some ways.”
Beyond his family ties, Dunleavy has proved to be a good fit in the Bulls’ second unit thus far.
“Whenever you get new guys, you try to evaluate what their strengths and weaknesses are, and then you incorporate that into your overall scheme, and you want everybody to play to their strengths and cover up their weaknesses,” Thibodeau explained. “But the fact that he’s been around, he’s a seasoned veteran, so he picks things up quickly and so, I think he’s a good fit for us.”
Derrick Rose, who shares an agency with Dunleavy, chimed in: “He’s huge, man. He’s a smart player, a winner. He just hasn’t been on the team, a winning team, I would say. For him to come over here, we’re fortunate to have him. He’s a knockdown shooter. His I.Q. is unbelievable. Playmaking, he can really pass the ball, that’s what surprised me the most about him.”