Despite not being an elite player, or a big-time scorer, Mike Dunleavy is the key guy if the Bulls want to have a successful playoff run.
The 6-9 forward is coming off a game where he had to get 10 stitches for his head, not only did he receive stitches, Dunleavy came back to play and scored a team-high 21 points while also leading the Bulls in minutes in the win against the Rockets.
It showed heart and passion, something that Bulls center Joakim Noah shows game in and game out.
“Stitches and buckets. It was very impressive and it shows a lot about the character of this team. For somebody to get hit the way he got hit, I’ve never seen nothing like that really. … Ten stitches, come back and play the second half the way he played. I like that s—.”
Every year Bulls GM, Gar Forman, seems to find a player like Dunleavy that head coach Tom Thibodeau can get 110% effort out of. Whether it is Kyle Korver, Nate Robinson, or Marco Belinelli. The versatile forward from Duke is just another product of the Thibodeau system.
Come playoff time, Dunleavy is the key for the Bulls because of his streaky shooting. The twelve year forward is shooting .377% from behind the arc, better than his career average; which is .372%. His ability to stretch the floor and make defenders respect his shooting range allows Chicago’s big men to work down low in the paint without the fear of a double-team. He also gives the post players an opportunity to draw in defenders allowing them to pass back to Dunleavy for a jump shot. However, Dunleavy is averaging 11.1 points a game, something that needs improvement with playoffs right around the corner. The Bulls are at their best when they get their forward moving around in the offense and setting screens for him which ends up in a more than likely a successful jumper.
Other than his shooting, Dunleavy contributes on both ends of the floor for Chicago. He makes everybody on the court better. The forward averages over two assists and four rebounds game; which shows that he does a little bit of everything for the Bulls. He also has been logging major minutes on the floor for Thibodeau, averaging 30.5 minutes a game. Although the three point specialist wasn’t brought to Chicago to be a full-time starter, Dunleavy has done everything that could be possibly expected of him and a bit extra.
Coach Thibodeau admitted earlier in the season he was a bit skeptical of the Dunleavy signing, but as of right now, the versatile forward has his coach’s respect.
“He plays hard every night (Dunleavy), gives himself up for the team. Offensively, moves great without the ball, shares the ball, moves the ball quickly. Defensively, always sticking his nose in, rebounding, taking charges, and that’s the price of winning. And that’s why he’s so valuable to our team.”
While Dunleavy wasn’t exactly the free-agent signing Bulls fans were expecting in the off-season, he is a great addition for the Bulls; that will help them with scoring and floor-spacing in the Playoffs.
By: Mike Albrecht Twitter: @MikeAlbrechtt