Potential Top 10 Bust: Kris Dunn (2016 NBA Draft)

Synopsis: With the 5th overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, the Minnesota Timberwolves selected point guard Kris Dunn. As a junior at Providence last year, Dunn averaged 16 points, five rebounds, six assists and two steals per game. Those numbers, which were unmatched by anyone else in the NCAA, earned him 2nd Team All-American honors. Including Dunn, the Timberwolves have amassed a talented group of young players over the last three years. Specifically, they have the last two Rookies of the Year (and #1 overall picks) Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns. At the same time, reigning two-time Slam Dunk Champion (and 2014 #13 overall pick) Zach LaVine has shown that he’s not a one-trick pony. It’s too early to tell how good the Timberwolves can be, but Dunn should help make them even more competitive for years to come.


Most draft analysts rated Kris Dunn as the best point guard in the 2016 NBA Draft. As such, he deserved to go with one of the top 5 overall picks. Perhaps more surprisingly, the Minnesota Timberwolves selected him despite having Ricky Rubio at the point. Since debuting in the NBA five years ago, Rubio has ranked in the top 10 in assists four times and top 2 in steals three times. Unfortunately, he has been unable to stay healthy. By using such a high pick on Dunn, Minnesota must be ready to move on from “Little Ricky.” At least that what I think Donald Trump calls him.

Assuming that Dunn develops quickly enough to replace Rubio by the end of next season, T-Wolves fans have good reason to be optimistic about their team’s prospects. Of note, ESPN’s Jay Williams labeled Dunn as “the most dynamic point guard in the draft.” Furthermore, Williams argued that the 2016 #5 overall pick is a two-way threat with confidence on offense and unmatched talent on defense. In fact, he declared Dunn the top perimeter defender in college last year.

Jay Bilas agreed with his colleague and offered the following assessment of Dunn.

  • Multi-dimensional player with great length (6’9″ win span).
  • Elite defender who can guard anyone on the floor.
  • Tremendous athlete.
  • Able to attack the lane and get to the rim off a pick & roll.
  • Excellent passer.
  • Explodes off the floor.
  • Potential to be All-Defensive selection (if able to stay healthy).

Helping provide context to these comments, Jalen Rose compared Kris Dunn favorably to John Wall. When the 2010 #overall pick came out of Kentucky, analysts praised him for his play-making, quickness and strong defensive skills. Since then, he has averaged 18 points and nine assists per game. Additionally, Wall has earned three All-Star selections and received All-Defensive 2nd Team honors after the 2014-15 season. Considering that Dunn has similar attributes (as well as a better outside shot), the comparison seems valid. Said differently, Dunn is not a likely bust.

Due to my responsibilities to this site, I often watch sporting events while typing on my laptop. During the NFL and NBA Drafts, I rewind and pause the telecasts so I can accurately record useful quotes. By the time Dunn got off the stage for his interview with Lisa Salters, I thought I could put down the remote until the next draft pick. Boy, was I wrong.

While typing feverishly, I heard Salters preface a question by bringing up Dunn’s absentee father and imprisoned mother. My ears perked up a little bit at first, but I completely froze after hearing Dunn say that his mom had died. I immediately looked up at my son to confirm what I thought I heard. He’s only 14 years old but has my appreciation for absurd statements made by idiotic people. As our eyes met, he simply said, “Rewind that!” At that point, I knew it would be blogger gold.

kris dunn interview
Kris Dunn may not become a great NBA player, but he already is a great person.

After rewinding, I realized that Salters put a mic in Dunn’s face and said:

Kris, you had some tough times growing up. You were separated from your father when you were young. Your mom was in prison, but you made it. . . Just tell me, what does it mean to you after everything you’ve gone through to be here right now?

While holding back tears, Dunn responded:

Man, probably one of the best feelings ever. You know supporting my family. My ma, she passed away. I know she looking up to me. I mean, I’m doing this for my city and everybody got support for me.

As Dunn finished the last sentence, the camera panned to a disgusted man who I can only presume is his dad. Again, my son and I caught each other eyes and shared a look that we both know meant, “Are you kidding me?” She easily could have asked her question and gotten a great answer without bringing up any specifics. The following video leaves out Salters’ embarrassing introduction (hmm, I wonder why), but make sure you watch closely around the 20-second mark.

Despite being directionally challenged, Dunn gave a heartfelt response that played well on social media. At the same time, Salters seemingly escaped any consternation.  She reminded me of Stuttering John from the Howard Stern Show asking inappropriate questions at a press conference simply for shock value. Circa 1995, the radio talk show host would have recommended that the ESPN reporter keep going. As “America’s Favorite Judge,” Stern would have screamed in her ear, “Abort! Abort!”



Perhaps realizing her faux pas (or thanks to a voice in her ear), Salters changed gears and asked Dunn about his stylish custom-made outfit. Without missing a beat, he gave a shout out to JCPenney for the suit and Gucci for the shoes. If LeBron can endose a low-end car manufacturer like Kia, who’s to say that Dunn can’t endorse a low-end retailer like JCP.

As a 16-year-old, I bought my first sports coat at Penneys because it only cost $50. Given the price, I actually bought two for $100. As a Top 5 pick in the NBA Draft, Dunn clearly doesn’t have the same budgetary constraints. Then again, I have to assume he didn’t get the same polyester blend that I did. Regardless, he seems to be a good bet as a pitchman for any company looking for a relatable professional athlete. Hopefully, Dunn maintains that quality after being in the league for a while.


Selected fifth overall, Dunn needs to average at least 12 points and six assists per game for ten or more seasons to rank in the top half of all players taken with a comparable pick. Alternatively, he’ll need to average at least seven points and three assists per game for six or more seasons to avoid being in the bottom quartile. If he averages similar numbers for less than four seasons, he risks being declared a bust. With half of those averages (i.e. < 4 ppg and < 2 apg) for two seasons or less, Dunn would be on the radar screen as a legitimate Top 10 Bust.

Helping build the case for Dunn as a potential Top 10 Bust, he had a tremendous college career. Specifically, he was a two-time Big East Player of the Year and a finalist for the 2016 Wooden Award. At the same time, he led the NCAA in turnovers so there’s reason for concern. Then again, his 29-point effort against #1 seed North Carolina in the 2016 NCAA Tournament showed he can handle the big stage.

Overall, I project Dunn to be at the top of the second quartile (i.e. just below the median 5th overall pick). Unfortunately, he has a couple of hurdles limiting his upside. First, he needs to unseat Ricky Rubio as Minnesota’s starting point guard. Second, he’ll have a hard time becoming an All Star in the Western Conference given Steph Curry and Russell Westbrook’s stronghold on two spots for the foreseeable future.

Most importantly, I have become a big fan of Kris Dunn. His handling of Lisa Salters’ embarrassingly self-serving question deserves as much credit as any on-court success. Regardless of his NBA career, he’s already a success in my mind.