‘From Chicago’: The Ayo Dosunmu story continues for Bulls
The rookie guard got his first NBA start Monday and continued to make an impact for the undermanned Bulls. But what happens when Coby White returns?
The magnitude of the moment had to be explained to rookie Ayo Dosunmu. Fortunately for the Bulls, that was his only kid moment of the evening.
After the Bulls’ impressive 109-97 victory Monday against the Nuggets, Dosunmu — a former standout at Morgan Park High School and Illinois — was asked about his first NBA start and being introduced as, ‘‘From Chicago . . . ’’
Dosunmu, 21, didn’t immediately respond before being reminded of the significance of that introduction. ‘‘From Chicago . . . ’’ was how Derrick Rose used to be introduced during his tenure with the Bulls.
‘‘Yeah, he’s from Chicago, too,’’ Dosunmu said, settling in on the similarity. ‘‘We’re both from the South Side. . . . That’s a bonus because he’s a legend and everything he did for the city of Chicago. Being from Chicago, of course, there are areas I look up to in his journey.
‘‘I like to be proud to say I’m from Chicago because I know the ups and downs of the city. I’ve been here my whole life. I’ve seen so many things, so much tragedy. For me to be in this position, doing what I love at the highest level, anytime I get an opportunity to show love to where I came from, I always love to do that.’’
Oh, he’s doing it.
Dosunmu, a second-round draft pick, continued to show his development against the Nuggets. Not only did he start for an undermanned team, but he had a major effect on the Bulls’ victory. He finished with 11 points, eight assists, six rebounds and a steal in 42 minutes.
Since Nov. 1, the Bulls are 10-1 in games in which Dosunmu has played at least 18 minutes and 2-6 in games in which he hasn’t.
‘‘I really love coaching him because you can really, really talk to him in a way that he wants the truth,’’ coach Billy Donovan said. ‘‘He wants to get better. He wants to grow. He wants to hear what he’s got to do to improve. For me as a coach, when you see a young man with that much hunger and desire to want to be good . . . I really, really respect that about him.
‘‘It’s his makeup. It’s who he is as a competitor. There may be guys who shoot it better than him. There may be guys who are faster than him. There may be guys more athletic than him. But he’s got a big heart and he competes and he impacts winning. He makes a lot of timely plays that impact winning.’’
That’s where it gets interesting.
Donovan knew that juggling Dosunmu’s playing time with fellow guard Coby White’s once White returned from offseason shoulder surgery would be tricky.
Before White was lost again after entering the NBA’s health-and-safety protocols last week, the Bulls were in a 2-3 stretch and White had played more minutes than Dosunmu in each of those games but one.
Coincidence? Not likely.
‘‘He’s unfazed,’’ Donovan said of Dosunmu. ‘‘That’s the thing I love about him.’’
His teammates feel the same.
‘‘He’s got that swag to him,’’ point guard Lonzo Ball said. ‘‘He’s very confident when he’s out there. We put 100% trust into him.’’