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Kris Dunn could be one of the safer lottery picks but does he fit well with the Nuggets?

Dan Fatigato Avatar
May 24, 2016


Up until the NBA draft on June 23, the BSN Nuggets staff will review first-round prospects the Nuggets may target. We’ll look at their skill set, the role they will play in the league and how they could potentially fit in Denver.

Kris Dunn, G, Providence

Providence’s Kris Dunn is the latest example of the increasingly rare four-year college player near the top of the NBA draft. He is classified officially as a junior due to a medical redshirt season, but he’s 22-years-old, the usual age of a college senior.

The prevailing logic can be pretty cold on seasoned prospects like Dunn  since they will be 25-27 years old by the time their rookie contract is up. Front offices have to weigh the benefits of college experience versus the siren song of the 19 or 20-year-old prospect whose ceiling is higher.

Look to the Northwest Division and you’ll see two great examples of four-year college guards that are lighting up the NBA. Portland’s Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum are both guards that bore fruit quickly, especially Lillard, as they entered the league fully formed and with defined skill-sets. Portland now boasts one of the top backcourts in the league, and it still doesn’t appear Lillard is at his ceiling despite his age. Whichever team selects Dunn will be looking for a similarly immediate impact.

It’s not crazy to expect Dunn to deliver comparable production. The 6-foot-3 Dunn earned back-to-back Big East Player of the Year honors in a quality conference, thanks to his stellar performance on both ends of the court. He boasts an all-around game with averages of 16.4 points, 5.3 rebounds, 6.2 assists and 2.5 steals per game his redshirt junior season and is a natural leader on the floor. With Dunn running the point, Providence was ranked in the Associated Press top-25 poll each of the last two seasons, reaching a high-water mark of No. 8 in 2015-16. Prior to 2014, the school hadn’t been ranked since 2003-04.

Dunn shot a tidy 35 percent from three throughout his college career, shot 37 percent from deep his junior year, and nearly a quarter of his field goal attempts came from beyond the arc last season. His wingspan at 6’9” and overall athleticism are good news for Dunn at the next level.

It’s almost essential to possess a dynamic offensive point guard in 2016; it’s even better if that player can lock down opposing star points. Dunn has the potential and measurables to be a defensive stalwart at the point but his technique needs work. Here, he negotiated switches, fights through screens and nearly forces a turnover against Villanova.

Dunn is quick enough to keep ball handlers in front of him and his size and fluidity help him navigate screens without losing his man. He has quick hands, strong instincts and his length propelled him to fifth in the NCAA in steals his junior year. At the pro level, Dunn will need to clean up his turnovers and work on his long-range consistency, as he tends to go cold at times. He’ll also need to hone that natural leadership and garner the respect of much more talented teammates at the next level. Providence is a long way from the NBA.

On offense, Dunn shines in transition, where his speed, vision, and leaping ability tend to create game-shifting highlight plays. Anyone watching Russell Westbrook in the Western Conference Finals understands how a fast-break flush can rip an opponent’s heart out.

He’s confident and potent in the pick-and-roll and his length and quickness allow him to be effective either by getting past defenders and seeing over the top of them. Dunn passes the eye test and looks to be a good finisher at the rim, and although he shot just 47.7 percent from 2-point range last season, he has the skill set to elevate and finish over rim protectors.

That said, Dunn is one of the safer picks in the draft and can be an All-Star in the right situation.

Potential fit in Denver – The Nuggets likely will need a backup point guard since Jameer Nelson is an unknown commodity at this point and D.J. Augustine may leave in free agency. However, it’s not the biggest need for the Nuggets and you don’t draft a pure point guard in the top-10 without grooming him for a starting role.

Dunn however, might be an exception to the rule. He spent some time off-ball in college, especially his junior year with the emergence of sophomore Kyron Cartwright and Dunn could wind up playing some two at the next level. His best position, in my mind, is still at the one.

If all goes to plan for Denver, Emmanuel Mudiay will be their franchise point for a long time. The Nuggets need shooters on the wing and a stretch four, both skills that can be found elsewhere at No. 7 in this draft. A backup point guard can be had on the free-agent market.

Current projection – Dunn is currently being mocked anywhere from the 3rd-5th pick, but could drop, as USA Today’s Derek Bodner detailed here, if no one in the top-5 has a huge need at point guard. Denver would have to likely move up in a trade to acquire him, but given their other needs and the presence of Mudiay, I don’t see it happening.

Dunn is a natural leader who has great length and a classic point guard skill set. He may be one of the safer picks in the lottery. Credit: Getty



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