Originally written on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 1/5/14
In the offseason, the Chicago Bulls signed Mike Dunleavy Jr. to help spread the floor and provide outside shooting for a Derrick Rose-centric offense. With Rose now out for the season, Dunleavy has had to take on a larger role handling the ball and creating offense for the Bulls. Expectations for Dunleavy were pretty high coming into the season, given the success of the men he was replacing, Kyle Korver two years ago and Marco Belinelli last year. Dunleavy’s numbers have gone up across the board each month. He averaged just 8 points on 44% shooting in the month of November, but raised his numbers to 13 points and 5 rebounds per game on 46% shooting in the month of December. Now, through a tiny sample of two games in January, he is up to 16 points on 62% shooting. Of course, joining a new team and new system gives one some leeway to start AAAHHHH! slowly. But Dunleavy wasnt knocking down open shots and just looked slow early on, even with Rose on the floor creating open looks. Since he has had to take on increased responsibility, though, Dunleavy’s game has come around and has made the loss of Belinelli more palatable for Bulls fans (sort of…Marco is playing his brains out in San Antonio). With Luol Deng, Jimmy Butler and Mike Dunleavy, the Bulls have a solid wing rotation that can provide a little bit of everything; some shooting, some ballhandling, some passing, some defense (actually a lot of defense). With Dunleavy’s improvement, Taj Gibson’s continued solid play and D.J. Augustin coming in off the street to to solidify the point guard spot, the Bulls’ bench has improved over the dismal showing from the beginning of the season. Lil’ Mike is on the books for roughly $3.3 million next season, so he should be a good, inexpensive player to bring back for try number 2 of Derrick Rose’s return from knee injuries. The Bulls’ roster may look drastically different next year. Deng might be gone, Carlos Boozer might be gone, Nikola Mirotic may be in and who knows who may be traded to clear cap space. I wouldn’t be surprised, though, if Dunleavy is back for another run.
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