On a cool night last November in Providence, Rhode Island, point guard Kris Dunn dropped 32 points, eight steals, six boards, five assists and two blocks in a win against Harvard. It was an incredible performance, and one that easily might not have happened. Dunn had been a top NBA draft prospect after his redshirt sophomore season, but he decided to stay. “The decision wasn’t that hard at all,” Dunn said. “I was only going to get one chance to experience college basketball, and I knew I needed to know more about the game. And I wanted to get my degree. I might as well be a great role model for my two younger sisters.”
What that extra season means for Dunn professionally will be decided next week at the NBA draft. Dunn is currently in the top five of most mock drafts; the Sixers, Celtics, Lakers, Wolves, Pelicans and Kings are all interested. How does a 22-year-old prepare for such a huge moment, which will be followed shortly by the monstrous task of going up against the Russell Westbrooks and Steph Currys of the sports world? We asked.
Q: What’s a normal day look like for you in the leadup to the draft? How often are you practicing?
A: After we lost in the second round of the [NCAA] tournament, I went straight to California to work out with [former NBA player and coach] Don MacLean for two months. Around 8 a.m. we’d get breakfast, and at 9 we’d go to gym, where they’d stretch us and we’d work on cardio to get bodies loose. Then we’d go to the gym to work on our game — ball handling, shooting, getting ready for the [NBA] workouts. There’s a bit of a competitive nature there. We’d go 1-on-1, 2-on-2, 3-on-3. Some NBA guys who’ve worked out with Don before would show up, and we’d go 4-on-4, 5-on-5. Then we’d head back to the gym and do weightlifting for an hour and a half.
Q: What NBA player does your game most resemble?
A: A couple guys. The easiest one would be John Wall. He has the height, and we both have a long wingspan and speed. When he first came to the league he wasn’t solidified as a jump shooter, so he was always attacking the basket. But he improved. He’s shown he’s capable of making shots. I also like to think Rondo, through the passes he makes. He impacts the game on both sides of the floor. Some people say Westbrook, because of my aggressive demeanor.
Q: Last year against Harvard, you had a huge game — 32 points, eight steals, six boards, five assists and two blocks. Can you describe what it feels like to play at that level?
A: When you have that type of game, you just dominate the offensive floor. I take pride in my defense — that’s the first thing I focus on, because it’s the one thing you can control. I have great instincts, maybe because of football. I was a cornerback and safety, and I always watch film and study guys’ tendencies. And on the offensive end, you just get in a groove, and the ball starts to drop. Everybody’s been in that moment, when everything starts going your way. But I also love getting all the guys involved — I love getting assists. I’m a pass-first point guard.
Q: What do you think the biggest adjustment will be moving to the NBA, in regards to your lifestyle?
A: I need to realize that this is a business, and I need to be a professional at it. In college, there are always people monitoring you, telling you where you need to be. Now I have to take everything on my own and become responsible — grow up. I’ll be in the real world, in a nine-to-five job. It’s a business. I have to respect people’s time.
Q: I’m sure you’ve been watching the NBA Finals. Who do you have in game 6?
A: I have to say the Cavs. LeBron has it clicking right now, and Kyrie too. And they’re doing a good job containing Steph Curry with the double team. Of course, Klay Thompson is unbelievable. But LeBron and Kyrie have been on fire, and if they can get one more guy going they’ll be spooky good.
Kris Dunn is currently in NYC, working with Speed Stick’s Coach Speedman project.