(First posted at RealGM.)
Dunn was rated a late-lottery pick last year but opted to return for another season of college ball and that bet is likely to pay off, as he’s now expected to go in the top five of next week’s draft. That’s mostly thanks to the weakness of this specific class at the top, though. Dunn did not manage to fill the gaps in his game with the extra year in the junior ranks, as questions over his shooting, his decision making and his effort on defense remain.
Phil Jackson once pointed out that the issue with Iman Shumpert’s shooting is that every shot he takes looks different. That’s the same problem Dunn faces. He is capable of making jumpers both off the catch and off the dribble, converting 36% of his 269 mid-range shots and 36% of his 190 three-point shots over the last two season – according to hoop-math. But the lack of consistency in his mechanics leads to skepticism over his true ability to make shots.
That concern, combined with the fact he’s turnover-prone, can chip away some of the value Dunn adds on offense. He is a pretty good shot creator (more on that in a second) but one that is not particularly well developed in the margins, often misguided in his attempts to thread the needle in traffic and driving into a crowd more regularly than you’d expect for a 22-year-old with 3,000 minutes of NCAA experience under his belt. His handle is also not that tight for someone who likes doing his fair share of dribbling without purpose. As consequence of all these issues, Dunn turned the ball over on 21% of Providence’s possessions when he was on the floor over the last four years – according to our stats database.
Focus and discipline are also problems on the other end. Dunn does not stay in a stance when he is on the weak-side and can often be caught flat-footed defending on the ball as well when his man is not an immediate threat to pull-up from range.
But he has the length (six-foot-nine wingspan), the strength (205-pound frame in the context of his six-foot-four height) and the lateral quickness to potentially become an elite defender when the effort is present. His physical profile provides switch-ability – as he’s proven able to box out bigger players and pitch in on the defensive glass (collecting 15% of opponents’ misses over the last four years), aside from optionality – as it isn’t much of a stretch to envision him guarding wings with regularity. It also helps with his aggressiveness jumping passing lanes, as his long arms turn these plays into steals instead of deflections – averaging three takeaways per 40 minutes last season.
That size and potential on defense is really bice but Dunn’s biggest appeal to most teams picking at the top of the order is probably his ability to generate offense. After he forces those turnovers, Dunn has not only shown great speed in the open court but also the smarts passing ahead to increase pace and hitting shooters trailing or sprinting to the corners. According to research by Draft Express, almost a quarter of his assists came in transition last season.
In the half-court, Dunn’s speed translates into his ability to turn the corner out of the pick-and-roll, get into the lane running downhill and attack length at the basket with explosiveness. He has proven able to hang in the air and score around rim protection, exhibiting nice touch on such non-dunk finishes. Dunn shot 62% at the rim last season, with such attempts amounting to almost 40% of his shot profile. All that pressure attacking the middle also led to seven foul shots per 40 minutes, though he didn’t maximize his profits due to converting just 69.5% of them.
Dunn is not one of those passers who anticipate passing lanes a second before they come open but has proven able to pass on the move very well when he forces the defense to collapse against his dribble penetration, assisting on 42% of Providence’s scores when he was on the floor last season – which ranked him third in the country.
His age may cause some decision makers to ponder how much better he can still get but the flip-side of that coin is that Dunn is one of the prospects with the highest floors in this draft.
Editor’s Note: Rafael Uehara is the managing editor of ‘Basketball Scouting’. More of his work can be found here or at RealGM, where he is a regular contributor. He can be followed on twitter as @rafael_uehara