Mike Dunleavy went against the grain this summer when he decided to take a pay cut and sign a one-year deal with the Chicago Bulls. After recording a career high 42.8 three-point field goal percentage last season with the Milwaukee Bucks,Dunleavy received several contract offers that were more lucrative than what Chicago was able to offer him. However, the 11-year veteran passed up multi-year deals and took a pay cut to have the opportunity to compete for a championship in Chicago.
Entering this season, Dunleavy will have only been to the postseason twice; once with the 2010-11 Indiana Pacers and then most recently last season with the Bucks. Dunleavy failed to advance past the first round in each of his two appearances. With 11 years of NBA experience under his belt and little postseason success to show for it, Dunleavy decided to take an alternative route this offseason and sign with Bulls despite them offering him less money than other teams.
Dunleavy will be reunited with former college teammate Carlos Boozer. The two played together at Duke where they had great success, which was highlighted by winning the 2001 National Championship. Bulls fans are hoping that Dunleavy will once again be able to call himself a champion this season in Chicago.
The Bulls have had a very strong nucleus over the past few seasons that have gotten the team to the playoffs each of the last five seasons. However, the furthest Chicago has advanced is the Eastern Conference finals where they lost in five games to the Miami Heat in 2011. Along with health issues, one reoccurring problem that has been troubling Chicago has been lack of scoring and an outside shooting presence. The Bulls have experimented with players like Rip Hamilton, Kyle Korver, Ronnie Brewer and Marco Belinelli to provide scoring from the shooting guard position. However, none of these options have given the Bulls the success, especially in the postseason, that they were hoping for.
I have reason to believe that Dunleavy will have better success in Chicago then each of the players previously mentioned. With the emergence of Jimmy Butler towards the end of last season, he has moved his way into the starting lineup and is expected to play big minutes this year. Thus, there will not be an immense amount of pressure on Dunleavy to play a huge offensive role as he is not expected to start. Hamilton, Korver, Brewer and Belinelli were either brought in to start or relieve the offensively challenged starting shooting guard Keith Bogans. Although the Bulls would still like to see Dunleavy contribute offensively by adding around 10 points per game, he will be playing behind the best starting shooting guard, in Jimmy Butler, that the Bulls have had in quite sometime.
Dunleavy is no longer the player he was in 2007-08 when he started 82 games and averaged 19 PPG, but that’s fine because the Bulls don’t need him to be that player. Chicago has committed to trying to win a championship this season with by building around their superstar Derrick Rose. I expect Dunleavy to not only help the team as a whole but also make the game come easier for Rose. Assuming Dunleavy can knock down three point shots like he has been doing his entire career, he will draw defensive attention and open up the lane for Rose to drive to the basket. If Dunleavy can play his role well of providing a three point presence who can chip in around ten points per game he will be a contributing factor in what could be a very special season in Chicago.