I may have forgotten to mention how psyched I am to see Mike Dunleavy Jr. sign with the Chicago Bulls. This is a very big yet underrated pickup for this team. I know it was a while ago, but if you were a fan or at least witnessed college basketball in 2001, you know what I’m talking about.
(picture by Dunk of Death tumblr.) LEFT TO RIGHT: Dunleavy, former Bull and the great Jay Williams, Shane Battier (current back to back champion for the Miami Heat), and current Bull Carlos Boozer. This 2001 Duke team went 35-4, won by an average of 20.2 points, and won the National Championship.
As for the 2012-2013 Bulls, they were obviously flawed on the offensive end. With Derrick Rose out for the season, it was extremely difficult for them to score. Kirk Hinrich did a fabulous job of filling the void, but he’s obviously much more limited than Rose. Running the offense is needed, but without the ability to create points for himself there was still a lot missing. They averaged 93.2 points per game compared to 96.3 points the year before. Other than Nate Robinson (who just signed with the Nuggets), no one could really create for themselves, and without a true 3-point threat it was hard to spread the floor. Sure, the Bulls had Marco Belinelli, whose career .387 3-point shooting percentage fairs better than Dunleavy’s .372 3-point percentage, but Dunleavy is more of a catch and shoot player, whereas Belinelli likes to create more off the shot fake, which is one of his go-to moves. Also, standing at 6’9″, Dunleavy is able to get his shot off on most opponents without having to create off the dribble. And above all, the guy knows how to win, which might be the most important ‘stat’ a player can have.
The Chicago Bulls might not have made headlines during this offseason, but they don’t need to. Any team who considers themselves a championship contender doesn’t need to make big adjustments. Here’s a look at the last 3 championship teams and which players were added to those teams before the season started:
2013 Miami Heat: Chris Anderson & Ray Allen
2012 Miami Heat: Ronny Turiaf & Shane Battier
2011 Dallas Mavericks: Tyson Chandler
You could argue that Ray Allen is better than your average player, but at that stage in his career he wasn’t brought on to lead the team in scoring; all they wanted was for him to make a few baskets when needed, which he absolutely did. Much like the other players mentioned, he was a reliable, consistent and competent NBA veteran whose skills and knowledge could be used to better any winning team. Mike Dunleavy Jr. definitely fits this list.
After 11 years in the league, Dunleavy is more than ready to make a difference for a team with an actual chance of winning. Having been to the playoffs only twice thus far, he finally has a chance to make a name for himself in the NBA, something he’s been trying to do since his days at Duke. At 33 years old, this may very well be his last shot. Let’s just hope his goes in.