Grading the Bulls: Mike Dunleavy

Grading the Bulls: Mike Dunleavy

Last grading: Taj Gibson


When Mike was signed two years ago, his offensive role was simple. Shoot the long-ball, and handle the ball more than Kyle Korver. Over the course of the first year, the long-ball part didn't really happen that much, as DeMarcus Cousins' best friend settled for just 4.5 three-ball attempts per 36 minutes, and even took more two's (6.3 attempts per 36) which really wasn't the point of why he was signed.

This year however, things changed. Surrounded by two of the league's best passing big men, and two of the league's better slashers, Dunleavy finally started shooting more from the outside. His three-point attempt rate went from 41.9% to a much more intriguing 54.7% as he launched 5.2 shots from deep per 36 minutes, and converted on 40.7% compared to 38% the year before. Not only did this improve his efficiency, he finished second on the team behind Jimmy Butler in TS% at .573 and became one of the more reliable scorers on the team, never mind the lack of dimensions.


In some regards, Mike's defense should almost be categorized under "Brought it factor", as the guy tries his damnedest when he's out there. What really happens depends on the match-up, but there is no denying the effort nor the intensity. It's gotten to the point where no one really enjoys going up against him, even if he doesn't have the quickest feet or hands. There are moments, usually late in games, where Dunleavy and his opponent have gone several rounds, and the other guy is just flat-out tired of having Dunleavy up his grill, which sometimes leads to the player giving up the ball. This isn't an unusual outcome for players going up against guys who are giving it all they've got, which was also true in case of Joakim Noah and his early years.

However, effort aside, Dunleavy isn't the prototypical defender. He doesn't have long arms, he doesn't jump out of the gym, he can't keep up with guys who can change direction quickly, nor players who are well-built and who utilize their strength. So there will always be some serious shortcomings on his accord. But let's just give him our participation trop.. oh, shoot. James Harrison took it.

"Brought it factor"

The guy gets under so many people's skin, and that doesn't happen without annoying the living poop out of people, and being slightly dirty on top of that. Dunleavy annoyed Giannis Antetokounmpo to such an extent that the Greek Freak did this, and will miss the first game of the new season:

Highlight of the season

Coincidentally, look above. That's Mike Dunleavy in a nutshell. He's a bit dirty on one end, frustrates his opponent to the point where he is intentionally being fouled, and he still knocks down the jumper.



This seems low, yes. But despite the goodness of what he brought, he still is at a disadvantage against most players, which in turn makes him a weaker link in the grand scheme of things. Now, to be fair, he never asked to start and play that much. But that was nevertheless the role he was in, and compared to other starting small forwards around the league, Mike was a solid chunk behind most of them simply because he isn't on that level anymore, and that feeling was frequently apparent.

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  • Dunleavy Schmunleavy!! I guess that we're stuck with him for at least 2 more years. I would have prefered a 2 yr deal, with a team option for year 2. Right now, Gasol and Dunleavy suck up $12-13 million in cap space next summer. I suppose that Gasol might opt out, especially if this season goes badly and/or he doesn't fit in the Hoiberg system just like he didn't fit in the D'Antoni system and the majority of Bulls fans turn against him like Laker fans did.

    How about something worth arguing about. Came across an interesting fan poll on BAB today. Which combination of big men should the Bulls start this season?

    My preferred combo Noah/Mirotic, came in first among the 6 possible lineups at 38% with 1858 votes cast. I'm shocked because everybody seems so down on Noah after last season's struggles. Maybe people realize that playing out of position had more to do with it than anything else and/or are hoping that Noah can recover his health this offseason. Gasol/Gibson came in second at 25% with Gibson/Mirotic predictably last at 2%.

    Of course the top 2 combo's are the ones that I thought the Bulls should have deployed in a platoon system of 6 minute shifts all last season, regardless of who started and who finished. I've modified my prefered platoon system somewhat going forward. I suggest that Noah/Mirotic play the first and last 6 minutes of each half with Gasol/Gibson playing the last 6 minutes of the first and third quarters and the first 6 minutes of the second and fourth quarters with the quarter break giving them a break between "shifts".

    Maybe we can platoon Dunleavy and McDNP in 6 minutes shifts also.

    I also hope that we can platoon Hangdog in 6 minute shifts, somewhere between the 16th and 20th chairs on the Bulls bench.

  • Also under the heading of Dunleavy Schmunleavy, and again from BAB, here is a link to what seems like a very balanced view of Gasol's performance from last season.

    The section on rebounding(while nothing new) would still be of particular interest to Doug Thonus, featuring this highlight.

    "what is alarming is the fact that the Bulls (per grabbed a higher percentage of rebound opportunities with Gasol out of the game (52.1 percent) than in the game (50.8 percent). Typically, the opposite holds true for rebounders who are at least considered above average. Of the top ten individual rebounders last season, only Gasol saw his team's percentage of available rebounds obtained increase when off the court".

    while finishing off with this totally reasonable conclusion.

    "None of this is to say Gasol's bad at rebounding. Just that, again, Gasol's not as elite as the raw box score numbers make him out to be. Do I wish Gasol would box out a little more often? Of course. Do I think he's detrimental towards team rebounding? Of course not! I would just caution anyone from thinking that Joakim Noah is not the team's best rebounder anymore".

    Overall, I would say it is clearly a "pro" Gasol article, yet many/almost all of the points made agree with most of what both Doug Thonus and I have been saying about him since at least the beginning of the new year(2015), once we had a chance to see and figure out the true nature of his total game.

    However, I might have to quibble just a little bit with the author's contention that, "across the board, Gasol was a lights out shooter"
    as well as this statement, "I feel confident in saying that I've never felt more comfortable with any player wearing a Bulls uniform shooting a 16-foot jumper than I am with Gasol. (I was born in '91, work with me here)". I actually agree with the second statement(even if it isn't 100% factually correct, I have no idea).

    While I have always recognized that the single best part of his game is his ability to hit the wide open 16-18 footer that results from the pick and pop game or penetration in general, and that he is by far the Bulls best player at this role, he still "only" shot 49.4% from the field overall which isn't particularly great for a center, especially for one that people insist on calling a dominant low post player.

    As a point of reference, the BozoHole shot 51% and 53% from the field during his first 2 seasons with the Bulls(I doubt that he was better in the post), with that same wide open 16-18 footer being the best part of his game. Heck, Noah who looked like a retarded Edward Scizzorhands on offense last season still shot 44.5%

    Well, must be time to just sit back and wait for the inevitable flood of stats (from the Al Franken(stein) zone) trying to prove that the stats in this article are irrelevant or are somehow outright "wrong", and that by simply pointing them out the author is denigrating an all star and the second team all NBA small forward, apparently ahead of Kwahi Leonard).

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Since Gasol was starting, he was going up against other starters, right? Whereas, his backups were going against other backups. Since the Bulls did have strong bigs for backups, I think we could expect a higher RB percentage from Gasol's backups.

    IMO, Gasol was a great FA signing at $7 million. However, he was not All-star caliber at D and RBs. Tho he was at blocks. Most teams would grab the guy for $7 million per!

  • In reply to rustyw:

    I agree, Gasol is a great value for $7MM but that doesn't mean he's a great player. He's very good offensively but neither the low-post nor passing presence he was billed to be. Rebounding he's fine but nothing special, certainly not as good as say, Noah in his prime. Defensively, he's bad. I don't care what the stats say, he doesn't pass the eye test. But on a team as offensively challenged as this one has been, his offense is a godsend.

  • I never fail to be amazed by your clownish obsession to try to diminish Gasol's achievements of last year. Somehow you are able to take a blog about Mike Dunleavy and turn it into a rant about how Gasol really is not that good of a rebounder.

    For someone who is always banging your own drum as to your (imaginary) academic credentials your logic skills can use some work. For example, the Golden State Warriors as a team shot .478 last year. Klay Thompson shot .463. Therefore, the inference is that the Warriors are a better shooting team with Thompson off the floor. Right? No. Wrong.

    Gasol had an outstanding season last year. There is a ton of statistics that back this up. These have been discussed here in the past. Aside from individual statistics, however, do the Bulls perform better as a team with Pau on the court? Consider this:

    Of all the possible five-man combinations the Bulls put on the court last year, in the top five combinations with the highest rebounding percentage, Pau was on the floor on four of them.

    Of all the possible five-man combinations the Bulls put on the court last year, in the top five combinations with the highest plus/minus, Pau was on the floor on all five of them.

    Of all the possible five-man combinations the Bulls put on the court last year, in the top five combinations with the highest "winning percentage," Pau was on the floor on all five of them.

    (sources: and basketball

  • In reply to hgarbell:

    Moreover, if you look at the graph in that same article you will notice that Gasol-Gibson is the best pairing for offensive efficiency and the second best pairing for defensive efficiency. (So, I have a quirky idea- how about playing them together more frequently?)

    So let's go over our checklist:

    1. Gasol is the Bulls best big man-check

    2. Gasol is on a terrific "value" contract-check

    3. Gasol led the league in double/doubles-check

    4. Gasol is a first-team All Star-check

    5. Gasol is second team All NBA-check

    6. Gasol is among the NBA leaders in rebounds, blocks, defensive win-shares, etc.-check

    So, let's bash him at every opportunity. Makes sense to me. That's a sign of a real Bulls fan!- check

  • In reply to hgarbell:

    Wow, you really are a genius. I mean nobody else has ever come up with the "quirky" idea of playing Gasol and Gibson together, except for at least 63% of the respondents to BAB's poll. Oh, wait, I've been saying that we should pair Noah with Mirotic and Gasol with Gibson and platoon them since the preseason last year. Wow, I must be a genius too.

    Just in case you haven't noticed (because like every typical left wing lunatic you are blinded by irrational/evil rage), I haven't taken any opportunity to bash "him" this entire offseason. Every time that I've posted about "him" I did nothing more than comment on an article or posting written by someone else somewhere else on the internet, i.e someone else's opinion or facts, not mine.

    Also, in case you didn't bother to read the article, it didn't bash Gasol at all. As I noted, on balance it was "pro" Gasol despite pointing out and documenting his obvious flaws defensively and on the boards.

    Strange how everyone else, everywhere else on the internet seems to be in agreement with my opinion of Gasol, and therefore not with yours. Yet you continue to fly into a lunatic rage and attack me personally every time that I do nothing more than post someone else's comments.

    As evidence of the balance of opinions, just check out Roman's response today and on numerous other previous occasions, or Doug Thonus's comments on occasions too numerous to count throughout this past season. Or check out Grantland's Zack Lowe laughing at Gasol's all nba selection, as would any NBA observer with an ounce of common sense.

    Maybe you didn't get the meaning of my opening, as in who gives a shit about Mike Dunleavy, he's just another guy(a 35 year old one at that), that's how important he is to the future of the Bulls, right up there with the Hangdog.

    If you had even a microgram of intellectual honesty or integrity you would never even bring up Gasol's ridiculudicrous second team all nba selection.

    Starting with the small problem that the 3 front court players, Cousins, Aldridge and Gasol are all centers and PF's, not a small forward among them.

    The 3 front court players that made 3rd team were Duncan, Jordan and Griffin, again just like the 2nd team, not a small forward among them.

    Is there any coach or GM in the league who would take Gasol over any of those 5 guys? The answer is no, check.

    Is there any coach or GM in the league who would take Gasol over Kwahi Leonard(who wasn't even selected for all NBA) at SF(apparently Gasol's position on the second team, with Cousins at center and Aldridge at PF )? Again, the answer is no, double check.

    If not Leonard, then Durant and Carmelo would have been second and third team all nba small forwards. Would any coach or GM in the league take Gasol over either one of them. Again, the answer is no, triple check.

    Gasol played every single minute this season at center. He was clearly not the first, second or third best center in the league, quadruple check.

    The Bulls moronically announced Gasol at PF at every single home game. Gasol was clearly not the first, second or third best PF in the league, quintuple check.

    The all nba voters selected 8 centers and/or PF's for the 9 frontcourt positions on the 3 all nba teams, with only Lebron James selected as an actual small forward. If NBA coaches and GM's held a fantasy draft for one season only, or one playoff season only, Gasol would certainly not be among the first 9 front court selections as he is clearly not one of the 9 best front court players in the nba. So much for the legitimacy of being 2nd team all nba, double triple check.

    Actually, if your money or life depended on it, neither would you, just another example of the typical left wing lunatic hypocrisy, not putting your money where your mouth is.

    Yea, your right, just because I don't have the same(delusional) opinion as you do about Pau Gasol, I'm not a real Bulls fan, even though I've watched or listened to 95-9% of Bulls games since at least 1970, despite not living in Chicago since 1986. What does that make Doug, or Roman or most of the other commenters on this site and all the others that I've linked to this summer, as they clearly don't have the same(delusional) opinion about Gasol that you do, are they all not real Bull's fans.

    Maybe you need to "check" your irrational(evil) rage at the door before you start posting personal attacks on me and my credentials as a Bulls fan just because I don't have the same opinion about Pau Gasol as you do, check, check, check, check, check, check.
    P.S. you forgot, period, period, period, period, period, as we all know that gimmicks like that leave no doubt about who is correct and the absolute authority on any topic, at least among the miniature minded of the world.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    It's interesting that you call me a "typical left wing lunatic." Of course, as is your habit, you have absolutely no evidence of this. Nonetheless, you still shoot your mouth off. Have I ever advocated socialism on this board? Tell me, what makes you think I'm a left wing lunatic? I am sure the rest of our community here would like to know.

    You make a great case for why Pau should not be on the all-NBA team: 1) you listen to a lot of Bulls games; 2) Zach Lowe says so; and 3) Doug is down on Pau. Is that it? What about all the veteran basketball writers from the U.S. and Canada who selected Gasol?Are they all irrational and evil as well? Perhaps they watched Gasol also.

    That's why you are such an angry dude. Their votes essentially negated your months of ranting about the shortcomings of Gasol. It makes it hard for you to reconcile these expert opinions with the fantasies that swirl around your skull.

    Just because you chow down roadkill while watching Fox News doesn't make you a basketball expert. If I'm so "delusional" about Gasol then the rest of the basketball world is delusional as well. I'll take that any day of the week. Enjoy your meal.

  • In reply to hgarbell:

    I see that the irrational evil rage is building, as is so typical of your ilk.

    By the way, I'm still waiting for you to take me up on my offer to deposit $100,000(or more if you are so confident in your idiotic rants about me) with an escrow company and meet me in a boxing ring to compare academic credentials before going a round or in your case, 2 seconds.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Bigbullshit, look who is on an irrational evil rage. But that is typical of your "ilk." My ilk is doing just fine. I know how proud you are of your 5th grade diploma.

  • Dunleavy is a very nice player to have off the bench, but as a starter, he's just plain overmatched. SFs are the best players in the NBA: LeBron, Durant, Melo, Kobe, etc. (Not Melo and Kobe anymore but you get the idea). Dunleavy just doesn't match up with those guys. Glad he's on the team but the Bulls need an upgrade at starting SF. I know some of you can't stand the idea of trading away a superstar like Taj or Gasol but you need to give to get, and nobody's giving you squat for Noah.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    I agree with Dunleavy being a better bench player but it seems the Bulls are in a holding pattern, not knowing what to do with Snell or McDermott and probably dont want to be proved wrong that McDermott just isnt what they thought he would be. So they have to give him one more shot since they gave up so much for him. To me this is not about Dunleavy, he is what he is......This is about McDermott not being that small forward starter that would stretch the floor for Rose and Butler. Maybe he can still prove it. He needs to have a breakout year.

  • In reply to Defense-Rebound13:

    I agree with both you and Roman. The Bulls have to see what they have in McDermott and Snell first. And even Moore and Brooks and Portis in the new Hoiberg system.

    If it all clicks, great! If only part of it jells, then the FO should get the missing part and go for the title. If that means Taj or Noah get traded, so be it. Neither the FO nor the fans should be married to them.

    And if none of the potential wings I mentioned above improve, then it's time to trade them with a big for a decent wing. Throw in a pick if needed to make it happen. And look for a starting FA next summer.

  • As a public service I forward this information for your consideration as Bull's fans, again from BAB, from just prior to the playoffs.

    "Pau Gasol is both a blessing and a curse -- he's the supplemental scorer this team has long needed, but his defense is so poor, it might not make sense to play him in crunch time."

    as well as this link from the end of January, apparently in response to his all star selection. Also check out the 432 comments that followed.

    What the hell is wrong with all these people that they cannot see that Pau Gasol is a nearly flawless superstar and no worse than the 6th best frontcourt player in the NBA, as well as the 2nd best SF(who plays exclusively at center while being listed as a PF) behind only Lebron James . Somebody needs to set them straight and relentlessly attack them personally every single time that they post or even just pass on someone else's post. We all know that anyone who would say such things is certainly not a real Bull's fan. Just like we all know that the only thing on a real Bull's fans mind in late August is discussing how Mike Dunleavy will lead the Bulls to a championship this upcoming season.

    Oh, the humanity, the "denigration"!
    Can't blame this one on me, unless you are from the leftist lunatic fringes of the 10,000 lakes.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    As a public service to the fans on this blog I would like to provide the following information:

    1. The inference from your post is that 432 people agree with this guy. Anyone looking at this blog will see that this is misleading and utter bullshit;

    2. No one is saying Gasol is a "nearly flawless superstar." This is misleading and utter bullshit.

    3. Like you, this guy thinks Real Plus Minus is the ultimate in advanced statistics. He then tries to prove how bad Gasol is by using a grossly low number. However,

    4. Pau Gasol's Real Plus Minus last year was 2.30. That was the 65th highest in the league which puts him in the top 13% of all players listed;

    5. So by using his own favorite statistic he is proving the exact opposite of his and your bullshit posts.

    6. More "leftist lunatic fringe" bullshit. OK, you put it out there so prove it. You can't which is why your whole shtick is bullshit.

  • In reply to hgarbell:

    I see the horns growing and glowing, is that you Lucifero?
    or is it just the return of hgarbellballa, the internet terrorist.

    Clearly, it is killing you that on any given day without even looking/trying I can stumble upon numerous examples of other people posting opinions of Gasol all over the internet that mirror mine (and Doug's and Roman's and Lowe's and apparently hundreds over at BAB) but you couldn't find one that mirrors yours to save your life.

    As is always the case with people of your persuasion, you simply cannot handle the truth, so first blame Fox News (like they have anything to do with Mike Dunleavy or Pau Gasol) and then go into an ignorant rant of blind rage and pure hatred.

    Irrational fanatical hatred at your level only comes from 2 places, evil or derangement, or maybe some combination of both. Which one best describes you? Do you even know, or are you too blinded by your rage. Oh wait, self awareness, clearly not a character trait of people like you, (oops, character another word not associated with people like you).

    It really is far too easy to get the best(well, actually the worst) of you. Heck I don't even have to say anything about Gasol myself anymore or make up nicknames that you don't approve of, I just have to repost other people's opinions about an insignificant basketball player and off you go.

    It isn't necessary for me to prove anything, as you prove it every time that you open your mouth. Clearly I hit a nerve just by bringing it up, the surest sign there is that I was correct in my characterization. But since I have to spell everything out for you, despite the fact that you are the self proclaimed smartest entity(note that I purposely didn't say man) on the internet, you're the one that torturously seeks to find offense in every word or phrase, always looking for some kind of "ism" to be outraged by. What kind of mind thinks like that? Only a hate filled left wing lunatic fringe one, like we see in the everyday rantings of a Maureen Dowd(heck, she might be you mother) and her sycophantic cronies. You want proof, you can't handle the proof.

    You really are the funniest guy on this site, especially when you're just being your natural, irrational, angry, hate mongering self, and not just laying some bullshit schtick on us. Keep it up, maybe someday you can emulate your hero Al Frankenstein and become a skit on SNL.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Now listen closely. I'm trying to help you. Put your can of Pabst Blue Ribbon down and quietly pick up the phone. There is a number you can call. Punch in 9-1-1. Tell the nice lady at the other end of the phone that you may be having what's called a "psychotic break." Then give her your address and wait for the nice young men to come and give you a ride to a nice place where someone in a white coat will give you a pill. Take it, lay down, and we can talk later.

  • While I am at it, since this is a post about Mike Dunleavy and only Mike Dunleavy, here is a take on the guy that we are hoping against hope will earn the right to displace Mike Dunleavy as a starter, McDNP and his summer league performance.

    Overall, it seems like an accurate assessment of his game. Like the author I am dubious that any of the positive stuff will transfer to regular season NBA play.

    However, I do still have some hope that if Hoiberg's offense can generate open 3 point looks as advertised, then McDNP will eventually hit them at least at a 40% clip. How long he can stay on the floor at the other end will determine the volume of those looks.

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