#34 SG-SF 6’9 230 Mike Dunleavy Jr. age 35
Last season was another solid year for Bulls starting SF as he led da Bulls once again in 3pt shooting (Pau Gasol made 12 so he doesn’t count). Ever the consummate pro, Mike D was effective as the glue guy the whole year. Unfortunately, this offseason he was hindered with a back problem requiring surgery not allowing him to start the season. It may affect his starter status as well depending on his replacement Tony Snell’s performance, and possibly an emergence from Doug McDermott at some point this year. Knowing how effective he can be in either role, the hope is for Snell to take the next step and earn the job. Snell is on track this preseason to provide above average to excellent perimeter defense and can run the floor with da Bullies Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler, something Mike D is capable of but a couple steps slower than Snell at his age. However, Mike D’s experience can make a difference at key moments, especially once in the playoffs. Having Dunleavy off the bench would solidify a huge strength of this year’s Bulls. The Bench Mob will win several games this season with frontcourt of Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson, along with future starting (2017) center Bobby Portis. This would allow Dunleavy minutes as Jimmy Butler’s backup at SG, and if teamed with Etwaun Moore, create a very long second unit. A potential lineup of the 6’4 Moore, 6’9 Dunleavy, 6’8 McDermott, 6’9 Gibson and 6’11 Noah would be a very effective bridge to the starters.
I do think Dunleavy should take his time coming back, even if it means he’s a Christmas gift or takes off the rest of 2015. I am optimistic Snell or McDermott will earn the starting position, but for the playoffs, and especially in a matchup versus the rival Cavaliers and defending Lebron James, I can see both Mirotic or Dunleavy at the 3 to give Butler a breather. After all, Mike D served up a facial all over Lebron’s face in the playoffs last season. Watch the tape if you forgot.
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