Are Mike Dunleavy and Tony Snell Missing Pieces for Chicago Bulls' Title Puzzle?

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Are Mike Dunleavy and Tony Snell Missing Pieces for Chicago Bulls' Title Puzzle?
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The Bulls made a smart move by signing Mike Dunleavy.

This offseason, the Chicago Bulls acquired a pair of quality role players—Mike Dunleavy and Tony Snell—who can help capture a title in the near future. Dunleavy was signed as a free agent while Snell was selected by the Bulls with the 20th overall pick in this year’s draft.

The two newcomers have totally different stories. Dunleavy is a seasoned veteran with 11 seasons under his belt. And meanwhile, Snell obviously hasn’t played a regular-season NBA game yet. However, they will both strengthen the Bulls’ re-tooled “Bench Mob,” playing behind the starting wing combo of Luol Deng and Jimmy Butler.

The Bulls were legitimate title contenders in 2011 as well as 2012, finishing with the league’s top record each year. Unfortunately, the team would fail to win it all, losing to the Miami Heat during the 2011 Conference Finals and getting bounced out of the first round the next year after Derrick Rose’s ACL injury.

The Bulls likely would’ve emerged as contenders this past season if Rose had suited up. And the team should have a realistic shot at a title next season with Rose returning to play alongside 2013 All-Stars Joakim Noah and Deng as well as guys like Carlos Boozer and Butler.

Will Dunleavy and Snell prove to be the missing pieces of Chicago’s championship puzzle?

What does each player bring to the table?           

 

Mike Dunleavy

Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

Last season, the Bulls finished 21st in three-point shooting at 35.3 percent. No, that’s definitely not a stat to brag about. They obviously missed three-point specialist Kyle Korver, who was shipped off to the Atlanta Hawks last summer.

The acquisition of Dunleavy should help the team immensely, as the former shot a red-hot 42.8 percent from long-range last season. He also knocked down 128 treys, second-best on the Milwaukee Bucks behind Brandon Jennings.  

Dunleavy was at his best last November versus the Cleveland Cavaliers. He went off for 29 points in that contest, hitting six of his seven three-point attempts and recorded 12 rebounds, six assists and two steals.

Check out the highlights here.

He showcased his ability to run the floor and finish as well as shoot the lights out. And did you see his pass to Larry Sanders? That was a thing of beauty.

Mike D is the perfect small forward, providing policy for the injury-prone Deng. Plus, he can help Butler improve his outside shooting, one of his biggest weaknesses.

Dunleavy isn’t an elite defender by any stretch of the imagination. Yet, he’s certainly not the worst in that department either.

During the Bulls’ dynasty in the ‘90s, the team always possessed guys who could space the floor with their shooting. John Paxson, B.J. Armstrong and Steve Kerr are prime examples. If the Bulls are to win another title here soon, Dunleavy could prove to be the next in line.

 

Tony Snell

Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sp

The Bulls surprised a lot of people on draft night by taking Snell in the first round. Everyone expected the team to grab a big man instead like Louisville’s Gorgui Dieng or Duke’s Mason Plumlee.

But like Dunleavy, Snell fills the Bulls’ need—someone who can shoot the rock. The New Mexico product shot a respectable 39 percent from downtown last season. That number should only improve in time.

Snell had a solid Summer League for the Bulls this year. After four decent contests, the California native exploded for 20 points, hitting five of his eight three-point attempts.

Here are the highlights.

Shooting wasn’t the only reason the Bulls drafted Snell. His stellar defense is also why the team decided to scoop him up.

The 6’7” Snell possesses a massive 6’11” wingspan, which will work to his advantage at the defensive end of the floor.

Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau is a defensive guru, meaning Snell should blossom into an outstanding player in no time. But will Thibs actually play the rookie next season? He’s known for sort of redshirting first-year players, just ask Butler and Marquis Teague.

Hopefully Thibodeau places Snell in the rotation right off the bat, as he can fill the “3-and-D” role for the Bulls.

Via K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune, Snell will work with Bulls legend Scottie Pippen.

"He said he's going to help me out, help me work on my footwork. That would mean everything to me. I want to be a good player like him. If he shows me any pointers, we'll see what happens.”

Pippen is one of the greatest defenders in NBA history, being selected to 10 All-Defensive teams during his career. Working with the Hall of Famer should help Snell develop into a lockdown defender.

If the Bulls wind up winning a title next season, the trio of Rose, Noah and Deng will get most of the credit. But don’t forget about Dunleavy and Snell.

 

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