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Dunleavy showing he’s not one-dimensional
by Adam Fluck
Posted on Oct 3
The Bulls knew they were getting one of the NBA’s premier shooters when they added Mike Dunleavy on the first day of official free agent signings this summer.
But aside from that, two things have stood out about Dunleavy after a handful of practices—his off the charts aptitude for the sport and his ability to pass the ball.
“He’s a knock-down shooter,” said Derrick Rose of Dunleavy this week. “His IQ is unbelievable. Play-making, he can really pass the ball, that’s what surprised me the most about him.”
Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau has taken notice as well.
“I think he understands the game, he’s got a great feel for the game, and I like the way that he passes the ball,” said Thibodeau of Dunleavy, who connected on a career-best 42.8 percent of three-point attempts last season for the Bucks. “The shooting part is obvious to see, but his passing is a big plus for us also because when you can add passing to your team, it makes everyone better.”
Aside from his size (6-9, 230 pounds) and overall ability (he was drafted third overall in the 2002 NBA Draft), Dunleavy has benefitted from being the son of a former NBA player, coach and general manager.
Mike Dunleavy, Sr.’s professional playing career spanned from 1976 to 1990 and it was followed by a coaching career that started in 1990 with the Lakers, where he guided Los Angeles to the 1991 NBA Finals. Dunleavy went on to coach for three other NBA teams—Milwaukee, Portland and most recently, the Los Angeles Clippers from 2003 to 2010.
Thibodeau knows the elder Dunleavy well and he credits him for the development of his son.
“Obviously being in the league a long time, he’s been around the pro game his whole life. I think that’s a big plus,” said Thibodeau. “His dad was a great coach and a terrific player. I think he’s benefitted from that. He’s been in an NBA arena since he was a little kid.
“Players benefit from great coaching,” added Thibodeau. “When you’re the son of a coach, sometimes it allows you to spend more time in a gym and see it not only from a player’s perspective, but from a coach’s perspective. From a coach’s perspective, often times you’re looking at the entire team and not necessarily just what your job is. It’s an advantage in some ways.”
As Dunleavy continues to get acclimated with his new teammates and the preseason begins Saturday night in Indiana, Thibodeau said he plans to look at a lot of different lineups to gauge where his team is at offensively and defensively. With a reliance on his experience and upbringing, it’s a process that Thibodeau believes will go smoothly for Dunleavy.
“The fact that he’s been around, he’s a seasoned veteran, he picks things up quickly and I think he’s a good fit for us,” said Thibodeau.
As his father pointed out this summer, Dunleavy has never played with an NBA All-Star. That will almost certainly change this season.
“He’s huge, man,” said Rose, a three-time All-Star, of Dunleavy. “He’s a smart player, a winner. He just hasn’t been on a winning team, I would say. For him to come over here, we’re fortunate to have him.”