Two Bulls and a skyscraping Chicagoan are set to perform over NBA All-Star weekend

on Jan31

31 January 2018 | 4:51 pm

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Three players with ties to Chicago have been invited to participate in the various NBA All-Star weekend events at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. New Orleans Pelicans power forward Anthony Davis will start for the Western Conference in the 67th NBA All-Star Game on Sunday, February 18. In addition to Davis, talented Bulls youngsters Kris Dunn and Lauri Markkanen will be in Tinseltown for the Mountain Dew Kickstart Rising Stars Challenge on Friday, February 16. This event pits the association’s best rookies and sophomores against each other in an exhibition game.

The 24-year-old Davis is an Englewood native who graduated from the Joslin campus of Chicago’s Perspectives Charter Schools in June 2011. Anthony Davis Sr. and his wife, Erainer, chose to send their son to Perspectives because of smaller class sizes. Davis sprouted into a 6-foot-10, 253-pound mega prospect while attending his high school on the South Side. Davis subsequently committed to play for the Kentucky Wildcats in Lexington, Kentucky. Approximately three months after leading the Wildcats to the 2012 national championship, the New Orleans Hornets drafted Davis with the first overall pick. The skyscraping Chicagoan dominated from the outset and became a five-time All-Star and two-time member of the All-NBA first team. Davis, the reigning NBA All-Star Game MVP, is averaging 26.5 points, 10.6 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.1 blocks over 43 games.

Meanwhile, the Bulls obtained the 6-foot-4, 210-pound Dunn, 7-foot, 230-pound Markkanen and Zach LaVine from the Minnesota Timberwolves in exchange for Jimmy Butler and the rights to Justin Patton in June 2017. The 23-year-old Dunn, who the Timberwolves took out of Providence College with the fifth pick in 2016, will compete for Team USA at the Staples Center. Dunn, a lockdown defender who is averaging 13.7 points, 6.4 dishes, 4.6 boards and 2.1 steals over 40 contests, has been the Bulls’ preeminent player at the season’s midpoint. Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg is thrilled with Dunn’s leadership, maturation and diligence.

“He’s really evolving into a closer of this team,” Hoiberg told the Chicago Tribune. “It’s really exciting.”

Markkanen, a power forward who was born in Vantaa, Finland, and acquired by the Timberwolves with the seventh choice in June 2017, will face Dunn as a member of Team World. Nicknamed “The Finisher,” Markkanen is a 3-point specialist who is averaging 15.3 points, 7.7 rebounds and 1.3 assists over 47 games.

“It’s a big honor,” the 20-year-old Markkanen said. “I didn’t even think it was possible. Like two weeks ago, I thought maybe I can be part of my first All-Star weekend. It means a lot. Maybe I can guard Kris. It’s awesome he’s on the other team. We’re gonna get the win.”

Although stuck in the basement of the Central Division at 18-32, Chicago’s young sextet of Dunn, LaVine, Markkanen, Nikola Mirotić, Bobby Portis and Justin Holiday should help the organization regain its relevance in the Eastern Conference. Plus, according to the Real GM, the Bulls are projected to have roughly $37.5 million in salary cap space and another lottery pick is inevitable on June 21. While things may look bleak from afar, Chicago is establishing a strong nucleus for the future.

As the Bulls prepare to run, expect Kris Dunn, Lauri Markkanen and Windy City native Anthony Davis to shine brilliantly on the hardwood two weeks from now in La La Land.

 



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