Dave Leitao on Kris Dunn: ‘I think he’s going to have a really good and long career’


With the eighth pick in the 2016 NBA Draft the Sacramento Kings select … Kris Dunn?

Dunn, 22, is an intriguing point guard from Providence College who stands at 6-foot-3, but like most prospects, they enter the association with a considerable amount of upside and things they must work on to improve their overall game.

Who better to address Dunn’s strengths and weaknesses than an opposing coach that spent years in the Big East Conference game planning against him such as Dave Leitao of DePaul University?

// “He’s one of those point guards that has a lot of size so physically he can get through defenses. Mentally he can see over the top and make quality decisions, but his size is the real benefit to him,” Leitao told Cowbell Kingdom. “His ball handling skills are air tight so he can get through spaces and he can split double teams. He can play the pick-and-roll offense really well.”

This combination of size, speed and vision could bode well for Sacramento as the team tries to keep up with the likes of the Golden State Warriors and Oklahoma City Thunder in the fast-paced Western Conference. What do these three teams have in common you ask?

The Warriors led the league in points per game at 114.9, the Thunder followed close behind at 110.2 and the Kings finished the regular season third with 106.6, according to espn.com.

The biggest difference being that Sacramento is the only team ranked in the top eight to not have scored more points than their opponents as teams averaged 109.1 points per game against them. This 2.5 differential is a factoid that Leitao believes can be closed with the arrival of Dunn.

“I think that one of the assets that really set him apart was defense because he’s such a good defender and he led the league and was one of the country’s best in steals,” Leitao said. “He has great anticipation skills and then on top of it he was able to score as well, particularly in late game situations. He took the ball in his hands and made a lot of big shots for them over the course of the year.”

Dave Joerger, hired to coach the Kings on May 9, could use an up-tempo guard in his defensive scheme such as Dunn who finished fifth in the country with an average of 2.4 steals per game, according to ncaa.org. Dunn also enters the NBA after a solid senior year in which he averaged 16.4 points, 6.2 assists (16th highest in the nation) and 5.3 rebounds per game.

The Kings certainly need a playmaker of this caliber especially with last year’s starting point guard, Rajon Rondo, testing the free agency market, which leaves only Darren Collison to hold down the farm.

That isn’t to say that Vlade Divac, general manager of Sacramento, should pull the trigger just yet because there’s always weaknesses to be found with incoming draftees.

“He didn’t really have very many weaknesses at all, but one thing that we tried to exploit was to show a very early second defender and make him make a decision,” Leitao said. “I think when he didn’t play well, those games were maybe because his turnovers were a little high so if we can force early decisions before he got into the teeth of the defense we’d have a chance to maybe get a ball deflected or ultimately turn it over so that’s what we tried to do.”

Dunn finished the 2015-2016 season with 3.5 turnovers per game which is a particularly alarming rate because the Kings have been known to be one the worst teams in the association in terms of holding onto the basketball. Their average of 15.5 turnovers a game is tied with Oklahoma City for second worst in the league behind the 15.6 mark set by the Philadelphia 76ers, according to espn.com.

The former Providence point guard has also struggled to find a consistent jump shot when defenses eliminate his path to the basket and missed a total of 37 games in his first two years in Rhode Island after two surgeries on his right shoulder.

Even so, Leitao believes that Dunn can be a successful point guard in the NBA for years to come and compares him to a player that Sacramento fans will remember as 16-year veteran Andre Miller.

“He has great size and I know he’s a really good kid and has a tremendous work ethic so he’s only going to get better because he fills up the needed skills in a lot of different departments. He can go end to end, play fast or slow, he’s got size, he can post up and so he’s got a lot of different things that a team could use once they get him,” Leitao said. “Kind of like Andre Miller had when he was younger, he could do a lot of different things on the floor. I think he’s a little bit faster than Andre. I look forward to watching him because I think he’s going to have a really good and long career.”

Will Kings fans get to witness Dunn put on the purple and black for years to come?

The chances of this are slim due to the rumored interest that Dunn is receiving from the Los Angeles Lakers at pick No. 2, the Minnesota Timberwolves at No. 5 and the New Orleans Pelicans at No. 6, but it’s the NBA Draft and anything can happen.


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