As injuries have plagued the Bulls consistently throughout the season, players needed to step up for the Bulls to be successful.
Rookie guard Ayo Dosunmu has stepped up for the challenge–and he has done much more than that.
The rookie from the University of Illinois received more minutes with Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso’s consistent absence, who are both out until March at the earliest.
Ayo has played substantial minutes, especially as a rookie. However, too many, he’s much more mature than his rookie status.
In the past 13 games, Dosunmu has played in at least 30 minutes each game. His high usage hasn’t impacted his play at all. If anything, his increase in minutes has amplified his play and proven to many that he’s one of the best rookies of the 2021 draft.
In the 13 games, Ayo has shot 60/114 (52.6 percent) and has totaled 6.7 assists, 4.1 rebounds, and 1.2 steals per game.
Alongside his impressive efficiency, Dosunmu has increased his scoring abilities as Ball and Caruso remain out. Dosunmu averaged 11.8 points amidst an offense that includes offensive powerhouses Zach Lavine, DeMar DeRozan, and Nikola Vučević.
Dosunmu’s play finally gained attention, as he was named to the Rising Stars Game during All-Star Weekend.
The game features 12 rookies, including Dosunmu, selected for the game. Teammates and coaches of Dosunmu only have positive things to say about the rookie, who is eager to learn every day. “He’s a sponge,” star teammate DeMar DeRozan said. DeRozan has taken Ayo under his wing. DeMar has grown fond of Dosunmu and his play as a rookie. A few weeks ago, DeMar made the veteran move to attend Dosunmu’s jersey retirement at the University of Illinois.
Billy Donovan understands rookies make mistakes. Dosunmu is different.
“There’s just going to be certain things he’s going to go through for the first time that he’s gonna learn from, he’s going to get better from. He’s eager to get better. He thrives on that,” Donovan states.
Star center Nikola Vučević has dominated the past two games.
In this season, his scoring has taken a slight decline, averaging 17.5 points per game. In the past three seasons, Vučević has averaged 20+ points. However, last game against the Indiana Pacers, he led the Bulls with 36 points, shooting 16-21 from the field. Vučević added 17 rebounds and three blocks in the victory over the Pacers. In the game before that, Vučević was elite as well. In a tough loss against the Raptors, Vučević totaled 30 points, shooting 13-21 from the field, 18 rebounds, and four assists.
For the Bulls to be successful down the stretch, playmakers like Ayo Dosunmu, Zach LaVine, and DeMar DeRozan need to feed Vuc the ball down low. The Bulls will be elite in the playoffs if they have three elite 25+ point per game scorers, Ayo and Coby, and the defensive additions of Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso.
The basketball future is bright in Chicago; the team needs to continue to play through injuries and look to add big-man depth at the trade deadline.
Featured Image: Peoria Journal Star