Bulls’ Young Star Gets Strong Vote of Confidence in Camp Battle

Ayo Dosunmu

Getty Ayo Dosunmu #12 of the Chicago Bulls drives against the defense.

The Chicago Bulls could trot out one of the most diverse point guard groups in the NBA next season. It’s the efficacy that is in question after news of Lonzo Ball’s indefinite timeline for a return from a third surgery to alleviate pain caused by a bone bruise.

Speculation has bordered on rampant with regards to who will fill the void left by such an impactful player on both ends of the court.

There might even be more of a platoon situation than not.

But the question of who will start for the Bulls at lead guard still does not have an answer, per head coach Billy Donovan. He said he will make that decision in training camp and that his bigger concern was which groups were effective together. His players have also spoken and one is getting a vote of confidence to go along with recognition for a tremendous offseason.

Dosunmu the ‘Dark Horse’ to Start

“Ayo is the dark horse to start after showing some serious promise during his rookie season, argues Jonas Nader of NBC Sports. “In 40 starts, Ayo put up 10.9 points, 5.4 assists, 3.6 rebounds, 1.1 triples, and 1.1 steals and was one of the best perimeter defenders on the team.”

Nader also points to Zach LaVine’s strong comments on his young teammate as a potentially good omen that Dosunmu can win the starting role.

“He looks bigger. That’s the main thing I saw. It looked like he been in the weight room and getting his body right. Ayo’s as hard of a worker as anybody. He’s the most inquisitive guy that I’ve met…Knowing him, he’s added things to his game and I think he’s in for a huge sophomore season.”

The Bulls went just 18-22 in Dosunmu’s starts and he posted the worst efficiency differential among all rotation players last season, per Cleaning The Glass. But, as Alex Caruso pointed out, he was just playing off of instinct last season.

Dosunmu Ready for Opportunity

“You can just expect me to just come out and just be better,” Dosunmu assured during an appearance on the “SportsZone Chicago” podcast. “Just try to be better in every aspect because I watch a lot of film. I did a lot of studying on my game on how I can prepare myself to be better…try to do what I always do: play the game the right way. Defend, score, facilitate. Just be a better version of myself.”

In his availability on Day 1 of training camp, Dosunmu took the diplomatic route when asked if he wanted the starting role.

He bulked up this summer after feeling the effects of fatigue down the stretch last year.

“Just being able to have my stamina there throughout the whole season and be able to be a reliable playmaker at all times,” Dosunmu told reporters before later saying, “With us playing faster and getting out in transition and playing a more open, free game, I would say me not getting tired would be a huge plus for me and the team because I can use my speed, make plays, get downhill and do what I do.” (h/t K.C. Johnson/NBC Sports Chicago)

Donovan was compelled to go away from Dosunmu amid the latter’s struggles as the season waned. But many of the other options are better suited for reserve roles or have not even garnered serious consideration in outside discussions.

Caruso has said that he prefers to finish games and make an impact “when we need to win”.

Goran Dragic’s experience was highlighted by Donovan just moments before the coach pointed out they probably don’t want to overextend the 36-year-old guard.

Lastly, Coby White has something to offer just not likely as a lead guard for the Bulls.

Bulls Dodge Disaster with Ball

There is a belief that the Bulls view Dosunmu as a starter long-term. But the even better news that came via Shams Charania of The Athletic one day after Ball’s surgery, is that there is optimism he will be able to return this season. As recently as the day before there was some thought he could miss the entire season.

While it is never a good thing to lose a player for any length of time, Ball’s potential return is a carrot for players who could use it as a rallying point on the schedule.

The Bulls should be able to navigate a singular injury rather than the slew that followed Ball going down including Caruso’s back and hamstring as well as LaVine’s knee injury which needed surgery this summer.

They still won’t be able to replace Ball directly but Dosunmu could come the closest.

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