Surprise Bulls Rookie Adapting Superbly to New Point Guard Role

Ayo Dosunmu

Getty Ayo Dosunmu poses for a portrait during the 2021 NBA rookie photo shoot on August 14.

Going into the 2021-2022 season, not much was expected from Chicago Bulls rookie guard Ayo Dosunmu, who was selected 38th in last year’s NBA draft.

Now, 49 games into the season, that picture has changed due to a myriad of injuries sustained by Bulls guard, among them Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso, the two primary table-setters and point-of-attack defenders.

Dosunmu, who at 6-foot-5 was initially viewed as mostly a combo guard, as in recent games proved that he can – pending situation – play the point guard position full-time if needed.

Adapting to the Grind

Dosunmu is starting in the backcourt next to superstar Zach LaVine, and has additional mouths to feed in the starting unit, with DeMar DeRozan and Nikola Vucevic also present. So far, that’s gone well. In his latest game, a 130-116 win over the Portland Trail Blazers at home at the United Center, Dosunmu delivered 11 assists.

Over his past nine games, the rookie is averaging 6.2 assists per game, showing impressive court vision and an adaptability to play off of what defenders give him. When they rotate too heavy on his drives, he’ll find cutters, or Vucevic, on short precise passes for layups. When defenses sag off of him too much, in order to stick with LaVine and DeRozan, Dosunmu pulls the trigger.

That type of shot-pass balance isn’t necessarily easy to find, especially for rookies. Fortunately for Dosunmu, he spent three years at the University of Illinois gaining valuable reps as a creator, leading him to 5.3 assists in his Junior season before entering the draft.

After playing behind both Ball and Caruso for most of the year, Dosunmu has picked up some tricks, chief among them being how to manipulate defenses and throwing off the scent of what he wants to do.

With Ball being mostly a three-point shooter, Dosunmu has taken some inspiration as he seems to understand the value of seeking the corners. Here, he’s forcing defenders to close out strong. He will gauge whether he has a shot, and if it isn’t there, he puts the ball on the floor and dribbles into a pull-up.

As for Caruso, one of the best point-of-attack defenders in the NBA, Dosunmu isn’t worlds behind. He fights over screens like a season professional, rotates when he needs to, and can even handle bigger wings for periods of time.

More to Come

The 22-year-old isn’t finished yet. Ball and Caruso will be out for another 5-to-7 weeks, leaving the rookie ample time to get even more familiar with the intricacies of the point guard spot.

For Dosunmu, he can hang his hat, for now, on the availability of Chicago’s three best offensive players. The presence of LaVine, DeRozan and Vucevic allows him three significant passing targets, as well as three guys who can keep the floor open for him when he drives.

Going forward, it might behoove the rookie to identify games where the above trio isn’t locked in, as to test his own abilities as a scorer. There isn’t a major need for Dosunmu to turn himself into a high-volume guy on that end of the floor, especially for a team projected to make the playoffs, but it would be a solid bonus to have in his game, as his career progresses. Because as things currently stand, it cannot be ruled out that Dosunmu becomes the long-term DeRozan replacement, for when the latter enters his mid-30’s.

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