As soon as Kris Dunn signed a 10-day contract with the Utah Jazz and checked into his first game for the team, he knew that he had something to prove and he had no problem taking on that challenge — and even going a little beyond what was necessary.

When he would get into the lane and score he would look over at the Jazz bench, make eye contact with head coach Will Hardy, and flex.

“Yeah, I be flexing at coach sometimes,” Dunn said with a smirk and a laugh. “Just letting him know like, ‘Coach, I’m here.’ The muscle tone is there. Most people look at me like I’m a skinny guy, but I like to play bully ball so I just let him know, ‘Don’t worry, you’re safe with me, coach.’”

Kris Dunn is remaining with the Utah Jazz

Though the flexing might make Hardy laugh a little, he more than appreciates Dunn’s confidence and the bravado that he brings to the Jazz. Hardy noted that the Jazz have a lot of players who are soft spoken and a little reserved, so it’s nice to have players balance that with big personalities and a little bit of swagger.

But there’s a lot more to Dunn than his occasional flexing or his voice. It’s not hard to see that Dunn has changed and added to his game and is in a position to completely revive his NBA career.

“I think we’re all a little bit quick to judge players too quickly,” Hardy said. “I continue to be reminded almost every day that the great part about basketball is that you can always get better.”

After two 10-day contracts in Utah, the Jazz signed Dunn to a deal that includes the remainder of the 2022-23 season and a partially guaranteed contract through the 2023-24 season.

“Those are the easy, feel-good moments over the course of a season,” Hardy said of Dunn getting a full NBA deal.

It was hard work getting back into the NBA, and work that Dunn took very seriously. Though Dunn’s defensive game has always been his wow factor, his career dwindled after multiple injuries, and his limited offensive game had him on the fringes of rotations.

But Dunn worked with a nutritionist, changed the way he works out, lost a little weight, gained a lot of muscle, changed his shot mechanics and started to see a change. He’s shooting well over 40% from deep, he’s developed a steady pick-and-roll and midrange game and his defense is just as good as it has always been.

He played in the G League and his efforts paid off with a call from Utah. Then, it paid off in a bigger way.

“He belongs in the league and I’m so happy he got the opportunity,” Jazz teammate and Dunn’s former Chicago Bulls teammate Lauri Markkanen said. “Like he said, he’s been working hard and he deserves it.”

And while Dunn was happy about the contract and proud of himself for fighting his way back into the NBA, it was the reaction of his loved ones that mattered the most.

“Kinda corny but like, seeing my dad smile,” Dunn said when asked what about the moment he signed the deal. “When he smiles and my son’s happy for me, my whole family is happy for me, it just makes you want to work harder and do more things like that just to make the people around you happy.”

Dunn knows that he still has more work to do. That partially guaranteed deal for next season is a signifier that he still has to prove that he is indispensable. But if his short time in Utah is any indication of what’s to come, the Jazz might have found a really great player that could be around for a while.