As Bulls players begin to trickle in to the Berto Center to prepare for what could be a very special season, CSNChicago.com is getting fans ready to hit the ground running, too.
NBA training camps don't open until the end of the month, but from Monday through Friday up until Bulls' media day, we're discussing everything from Derrick Rose's comeback to the top competition in the Eastern Conference — with a twist.
CSNChicago.com has compiled the insights of anonymous behind-the-scenes league insiders (an assistant coach, a front-office executive, a retired player and an advanced scout), to go along with in-depth reporter breakdowns and complementary statistical analysis to ensure that die-hard hoops fans are up to speed when the balls officially start bouncing.
Today’s Topic: How much of an impact will Mike Dunleavy make?
"I think Mike Dunleavy will have a great impact. I thought he had a great year last year in Milwaukee, and it was maybe the best year I’ve seen him play in the last two or three years I’ve seen him play.
"Perimeter jump shot, driving the ball to the basket, running the floor on the wing, running off screens. I think he’s a great, great fit for the Bulls in place of (Marco) Belinelli and some of the other guys that they’ve lost in the past year."
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Dunleavy’s been around for a long time, and maybe based on the fact that he was such a high draft pick or has played for non-competitive teams for his entire career, he’s become relatively unappreciated. The source is correct in that Dunleavy was outstanding off the bench for the Bucks last season. He was actually one of the best reserves in the league and somewhat of a stabilizing force on a Milwaukee squad that had on-court chemistry issues.
There will be a tendency to compare him to Kyle Korver or see him as a natural replacement for Belinelli, but Dunleavy might not be quite the shooter Kyle is — few, if any players are, but Dunleavy comes very close to that elite level — or the pick-and-roll ball handler Marco proved to be last season. But he blends some of the two former Bulls’ best qualities. Additionally, at 6-foot-10, he gives the Bulls even more size and length at the wing, so even though he isn’t known as a great defender, he should help them as a rebounder from the perimeter.
He also has some nice glue-guy qualities, is a very underrated passer and will likely be the team’s best pure shooter. I can’t see Tom Thibodeau going small too often, but just the possibility of using the fairly interchangeable trio of Dunleavy, Luol Deng and Jimmy Butler together is very intriguing, as both he and Luol can function as de facto stretch fours, with Jimmy and Luol being strong enough defensively to make up for his shortcomings on that end of the floor.
[MORE: What is Jimmy Butler's ceiling?]
Beyond everything else, the fact that he’s so hungry to win is probably the biggest thing Dunleavy will bring to the table. The Duke connection with Luol and Carlos Boozer (the latter being a college teammate), sharing the same agency with Derrick Rose and simply all of his experience all help, but him turning down more money to sign a two-year deal with the Bulls — not to mention the Bulls front office making such an early commitment to him and spending more than what many observers expected — speaks volumes, especially coming from the son of a former NBA player, coach and executive.
Dunleavy clearly analyzed the market and decided that being in Chicago would give him the greatest chance of the postseason success that’s eluded him throughout his career. In turn, I expect him (barring serious injury, something that has been an issue for him) to be an integral part of the upcoming campaign, as likely the Bulls’ top offensive reserve and an important member of Thibs' rotation. I see him playing upward of 20 minutes per game, hovering around low double figures as a scorer, being a prime drive-and-kick target for Derrick and a key factor in pick-and-roll scenarios, whether setting the pick and popping out or having the ball in his hands.
Monday: What is the Bulls’ biggest weakness?