Bulls’ Vet Sends Strong Message on Emerging Guard

Goran Dragic Slovenia

Getty Slovenian baller Goran Dragic looks on during a warm-up bout with Croatia ahead of EuroBasket 2022.

On Tuesday, the Chicago Bulls will suit up for the first time since their 2021-22 campaign ended with a whimper in the first round against the Milwaukee Bucks. After a long offseason, Billy Donovan’s club will be in action at the United Center for a preseason bout with New Orleans Pelicans.

Alas, even with opening night of the NBA regular season fast-approaching, the Bulls still have a Lonzo Ball-sized hole in their starting five that needs filling.

Throughout the summer, hope abounded that Ball would be fully back in effect for the new year after suffering a season-ending meniscus tear in January. However, the former No. 2 overall pick’s issues have lingered, and he was ultimately forced to undergo another procedure on his knee last week.

Whether it will be Alex Caruso, Goran Dragic, Ayo Dosunmu or someone else subbing as lead guard during Ball’s extended absence remains to be seen. In the meantime, one of the aforementioned ballers looks to be making a huge impression on his backcourt mates.

Dragic Impressed by What He’s Seen Out of Ayo

After Monday’s practice, Dragic — who signed with Chicago over the summer after brief run in Brooklyn — was asked which of his teammates had stood out the most to him during camp.

The 36-year-old didn’t respond by namechecking Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan or any of the other vets he has competed with time and time again throughout his lengthy career. Rather, it was the youngster, Dosunmu, who earned the mention.

“I really like Ayo. He’s a great kid,” Dragic said, via NBC Sports Chicago. “He really listens and he’s really asking questions. For me, it’s just to guide him on the right path. He has such a great talent and he’s a positive kid. He really surprised me.”

That’s not to say that Dragic was wholly unfamiliar with Dosunmu, though.

“I played last year against him, so I know defensively how tough he is,” Dragic added. “He’s a tough kid.”

Dosunmu Took Steps to Elevate His Game Over the Summer

Last week, Dosunmu noted that some things had been coming slightly easier to him than they did during his rookie campaign, and not just from a mental standpoint.

“Yeah, I feel a lot stronger,” Dosunmu said, via the Chicago Sun-Times. “Even just those bumps out there, trying to keep my defender in front or finishing at the rim, every aspect of the game, I would say I feel a lot stronger than last year.”

That newfound strength isn’t just a fluke; anyone who has laid eyes on Dosunmu in recent months would know that the Morgan Park product spent the summer transforming his body. Pics of his newly chiseled physique made waves on social media in August.

Per the Sun-Times’ Joe Cowley, Dosunmu added seven pounds to his frame, while also improving his footwork and speed. And he still has a few other things he wants to check off his list in the coming weeks, too.

“The stamina part, just being able to have my stamina there the whole season,” Dosunmu said. “And just being able to be a reliable playmaker at all times.”

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