Life can be difficult for NBA rookies, especially those who end up going to good teams. While their peers on less-established clubs are afforded more court time to make mistakes and find their way, this lot is often forced to learn from the sidelines. Winning takes precedence over their personal development.
Chicago Bulls rookie Ayo Dosunmu is a different case, however.
Even as the Bulls find themselves just a half-game out of the top spot in the Eastern Conference, Dosunmu has somehow found a way to be a part of the club’s rotation. It’s a rare spot for a first-year pro on a potential contender, but the 21-year-old is filling it.
Over the weekend, he logged one of his best efforts to date, putting up 11 points, three boards and two blocked shots during a four-point road win over the Brooklyn Nets. It was an effort that drew rave reviews from former league star and Bulls broadcaster Kendall Gill.
Gill: Dosunmu Is ‘Playing Like One of the Top Rookies’
In the wake of his outburst against the Nets — which featured an impressive chase-down block on fellow rookie Cam Thomas during a tight fourth quarter — Gill couldn’t help but give Dosunmu some props.
“You have the rook come in and show he is a dog, too,” Gill said after Dosunmu’s big game, via NBC Sports Chicago.
“Ayo Dosunmu, you are playing great basketball. I am not saying this because we went to the same school together. You are legitimately playing like one of the top rookies in this league right now.”
For his part, former Bulls big man Will Perdue has been equally impressed by the rookie.
“How about the fact that he continues to amaze us with his timing on offensive rebounds?” Perdue added. “The fact that he goes in there and mixes it up, he is not afraid.”
Getting Better Each Game
Entering Monday’s bout with the Denver Nuggets, the 6-foot-5 Dosunmu was averaging 5.8 points and 2.0 rebounds in 16 minutes per contest. He had also connected on 48.7% of his field-goal attempts and 41% from three-point range. Among rookies who have logged 100 or more minutes this season, Dosunmu ranked third in effective field goal percentage at 55.8.
As good as he has been, though, Dosunmu sees himself maintaining the upward trend. And he’s giving a lot of the credit for his continued improvement to Bulls coach Billy Donovan.
“I think I’m getting better each game,” Dosunmu said, via NBC 5 Chicago. “One thing I love about Coach Donovan is he shows so much tough love to me. After every game, whether I play a lot or I don’t play a lot, he always calls me over and gives me words of encouragement. Sometimes it may be good. Sometimes it may be bad. I take the constructive criticism and try to help myself become a better player because I know that he obviously sees something in me if he’s coaching me hard.”