If you watched the Wednesday night’s loss to the New Orleans Pelicans, you might have noticed that Goran Dragic — not Ayo Dosunmu — was on Billy Donovan’s closing unit late in the fourth quarter for the first time this season.
Dragic played three more minutes than Ayo in the third quarter and scored five of his 14 points on two-of-three shooting while recording a pair of assists. That led to Dragic getting eight minutes of run — in a season-high 26 on the night — in the fourth quarter. Dosunmu clocked just 5:17 in the final frame on Wednesday night.
Dragic rewarded Billy Donovan’s tactical move with four more points, again on 2-of-3 shooting, and logged a pair of assists and rebounds, respectively. The Bulls lost that game and again fell under .500 on the season, but it was clear that Donovan was more comfortable with Dragic down the stretch on this particular night. Dragic scored 14 points and shot 54.5 percent from the floor while logging six assists and two rebounds.
You’ll also recall Donovan going from Dosunmu to Dragic earlier than normal on Monday night in the Bulls victory over the Toronto Raptors. That move led to Dragic scoring eight points on an efficient 3-of-4 from the floor. Throw in two boards, an assist and a steal, and Dragic’s early check-in helped the Bulls erase an early deficit against the Raptors.
Dosunmu would play just four minutes in the opening frame on Monday night but end the game with 12 points in 27 minutes of action.
When you consider the recent minutes distributions between Dosunmu and Dragic, and then couple that with Dragic’s stellar start to the season, it’s easy to find yourself asking whether or not Billy Donovan should consider flipping the roles of Dosunmu and Dragic.
Dragic led a bench unit that has been one of the more impressive in the NBA this season, and there’s absolutely no reason to take him out of that role. His +117 plus-minus ranks sixth in the league and is second behind only Kevin Love regarding bench players.
It’s not hard to hop aboard the Dragic Hype Express right now, but Ayo Dosunmu is still having a good season in his own right, averaging 12.1 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 3.2 assists this season while posting a true shooting percentage of 60.0. A big reason for Dosunmu’s success this season is that he’s been much more aggressive in attacking the basket, something he didn’t do last season.
Dosunmu has nearly doubled his layup attempts this season — from 2.5 per game to 4.3 per game –, and the results are there. In Dosunmu’s 22-point performance against the Celtics, four of his nine makes were layups.
With Dosunmu and Dragic finding their version of success in their respective roles, there’s no reason to consider switching things up.
While Dragic is clearly the best point guard on the Bulls roster right now, he’s not the best fit to be the starting point guard on the roster. Not for lack of skill but for the need that the Bulls have for him to continue to fulfill his current role.
Wednesday night’s season-high minutes count was a decision that Billy Donovan surely factored in the fact that the Bulls had three days off ahead of them. As excellent as Dragic has been this season, he’s playing his 15th NBA season, and the legs aren’t what they used to be. If the Bulls want Dragic to look like this version of himself in the playoffs, they’d be wise to keep him right where he’s at, which is around 19 minutes a night.
To me, this week’s minutes distribution was merely a matter of need at the moment and not something we should read into as a sign of something more prominent on the horizon, at least for now.