One Way Or Another, Ayo Dosunmu "Impacts Winning"

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One Way Or Another, Ayo Dosunmu “Impacts Winning”

Chicago Bulls

Ayo Dosunmu is not a top-10 rookie scorer. He doesn’t rank top 10 in rebounds, assists, or steals, and he doesn’t even rank top-10 in minutes played. But I’m not sure I could care less.

As far as I’m concerned, Dosunmu might as well not even be a rookie. He may have been selected with the 38th-overall pick on July 29th, 2021, but his three years of basketball at the University of Illinois have him playing like a guy who went off the board in 2018. Monday night’s showing against the Denver Nuggets underscored that belief, as Dosunmu received the first start of his short NBA career and posted 11 points, 8 assists (career-high), 6 rebounds, with 1 steal.

Arguably even more impressive than his balanced box score, however, was the fact that he stayed on the court for 42 minutes of action in the Bulls 109-97 victory. Yes, the Bulls may have been aggressively short-handed thanks to the absence of DeMar DeRozan, Alex Caruso, Javonte Green, and Coby White, but a 42-minute stint says a whole lot about this team’s trust in their 21-year-old guard.

“There may be guys who shoot it better than him. There may be guys who are faster than him. There are maybe guys that are more athletic than him,” head coach Billy Donovan said after the game about Dosunmu. “But he’s got a big heart and he competes and he impacts winning. And he, I think in a lot of ways, makes a lot of timely plays that impact winning.”

Whether it be a 3-pointer to erase a Celtics 19-point lead, a thunderous chase-down block to stop the Nets’ fastbreak score, or a steal and underhand lob to a soaring Zach LaVine against the Nuggets, Dosunmu’s fingerprints have been all over a handful of the Bulls biggest games this season. And it’s pretty remarkable we get to say that only 25 games into his NBA career.

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Depth was a noted concern for this Bulls team as they waltzed into a highly-anticipated season. The starting lineup was stacked with All-Star-level talent, but the bench was stuffed with several unproven commodities. Dosunmu, of course, was the most unproven on that bench. He was a player who tumbled down the draft board, in large part, due to age and the lack of an elite skill set. The funny thing about those “concerns” now is that they happen to be the exact reason he is helping the Bulls.

As a team ready to compete in the present, Dosunmu’s maturity and Swiss-army-knife-like abilities have been the perfect fit. He holds a 56.7 effective field goal percentage (74th percentile), takes care of the basketball, hustles in transition, and suddenly soars toward the rim for at least a couple of unexpected rebounds a game. He loves doing the dirty work as much as he loves making the big play, and it’s provided the Bulls the perfect plug-and-play player that every successful team wants alongside its top talent.

“Stay ready so you don’t have to get ready,” Dosunmu told reporters when asked about his mindset after the game. “The reality of it is that coming into the season, unfortunately, there is going to be times where someone is going to be injured or, with COVID, be out due to protocols are something, so you just always want to be ready. But the hard thing mentally is not knowing when it’s going to happen … the mindset I had coming into this season helped me prepare for nights like this when it is my time to play.”

As a fundamental piece of this rotation’s early-season success, it’s becoming abundantly clear the Bulls had a win-ready gem fall right into their laps this offseason. Speaking of which, perhaps we finally do have our answer to the coveted question, “what is Dosunmu’s elite skill?”

Winning.

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Author: Elias Schuster

Elias Schuster is the Lead Bulls Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @Schuster_Elias.