If there is an issue, it is that, to find out if second-year guard Ayo Dosunmu is indeed the answer they need to play him as much as possible.
He is heading into the final year of his contract with restricted free agency likely on the horizon.
Despite his pending restricted status, the Bulls’ path to keeping him may not be as clean as they would hope in light of his quick development from second-round pick to potential long-term building block. It just adds another question mark to this Bulls team that showed a lot of promise last season.
Competition for Dosunmu Next Summer
The Bulls have added incentive to find out just what they have in Dosunmu. He is heading for restricted free agency after this season meaning they can match any offer that comes his way. But if he impresses again, even in a bench role, the Bulls could face stiff competition to retain him.
“I am sure they will match any deal he gets,” a rival executive told Heavy’s Sean Deveney. “But another team can make things difficult by putting in a balloon payment in the third year. If he makes a big leap this year, maybe that could happen. You’d have to look out for a rebuilding team like the Spurs or Jazz or Magic on that. Especially San Antonio, he is their kind of player.”
That is why, even at the risk of helping to boost his price exponentially, the Bulls might be wise to go with the 22-year-old guard in the starting lineup.
For all of the reasons to go away from the other options, there are few with Dosunmu.
One could argue their minus-5.3 efficiency differential with Dosunmu in the lineup, per Cleaning the Glass. But, as teammate Alex Caruso pointed out of Dosunmu, he was just playing without having much understanding of the NBA game after being thrust into the starting lineup.
Bulls Think Highly of Dosunmu
We heard from Dosunmu that he feels he is certainly ready to step up and into Ball’s role as needed. The 2021 NBA Draft’s 38th-overall pick got plenty of unexpected starting experience last season as Ball and fellow starting option Caruso went down with injuries.
With Caruso back healthy, and the Bulls signing Goran Dragic there is some debate as to who should be starting or, at least, receive the bulk of the point guard minutes.
But Dosunmu could already have the leg up on either of his veteran teammates.
“They seem very committed to him,” the executive told Deveney, “they want him to play and build up his skills, they see him as a starter at some point soon.”
The Bulls may get that chance with Ball expected to miss the start of the regular season. Dosunmu started 40 games last season with 38 of them coming after Ball went down. He averaged 11 points on 52.1% shooting ( 35.7% 3P) with 5.2 assists, 3.4 rebounds, and 1.1 steals in that span.
While they could still turn to Caruso or the 36-year-old Dragic, there are arguments against both as starting options.
Caruso has dealt with injuries and managing them could mean managing his minutes. Dragic is coming off his final run with Slovenia in the FIBA 2022 World Cup. After one of the matches, he admitted his legs are not what they used to be.
Both will add value this season but it needs to be off of the bench.
Dosunmu Fits with Starters
There were just two lineups featuring Dosunmu to meet the 100-possession threshold and post a positive efficiency differential. One of those was with Ball, Zach LaVine, Derrick Jones Jr., and Nikola Vucevic.
That is a fairly standard mixed group of starters and bench players.
The other, however, featured DeMar DeRozan in Jones’ place at power forward and Coby White in place of Ball. In that configuration, it is debatable whether White or Dosunmu is operations as the primary facilitator. Especially since the Bulls feature two ball-dominant players in DeRozan and LaVine.
Either way, Dosunmu shot over 37% from three better than 38% on catch-and-shoot triples last season.
Spacing should not be an issue for a player that sounded off on all that he’s learned since entering the NBA and why that has him prepared to assume the role the Bulls seem to have planned for him.