Bulls’ Ayo Dosunmu headed to Rising Stars game during All-Star Weekend
The rookie from Morgan Park High School has no problem playing heavy minutes lately, and the reward for all the time he has put in came Tuesday, when he was one of 12 rookies selected for the Rising Stars game.
The blowout of the Trail Blazers on Sunday helped.
That got Ayo Dosunmu and the rest of the Bulls’ starters out of the game early for some much-needed rest. But even with an easier night than usual, the minutes police have to be circling around the United Center lately.
In the last nine games, including the light 34-minute night against Portland, Dosunmu was averaging 37.7 minutes. Over a full season, the former Morgan Park standout would be second in the league in minutes per game, trailing only Fred VanVleet (38.6).
Then again, the minutes police would be the only ones really concerned because it sure wasn’t bothering Dosunmu, 22.
Very little does these days, especially after he was named Tuesday to the All-Star Weekend’s Rising Stars game, joining the 12-player rookie team.
“I always say your mind tells you you’re tired, and you have about 60-70% left,’’ Dosunmu said to reporters. “So I try to just train my mind. So when I think I’m tired, it’s just probably a spur-of-the-moment thing. You can keep going, dig deep and dig deep on your habits. In the offseason, those extra runs, those extra sprints. Then it gives me a little bit more leniency with my recovery.’’
Dosunmu’s extended playing time has been out of necessity with Lonzo Ball (knee surgery) and Alex Caruso (wrist surgery) sidelined, but it has been a huge positive for Dosunmu. From Day 1 of training camp, teammates have talked about how the former Illini guard asked more questions than most rookies they could remember, and he not only asked the questions but retained the answers.
“He’s a sponge,’’ veteran DeMar DeRozan said earlier in the season.
“He’s just an eager guy to learn,’’ coach Billy Donovan said. “You see levels of inconsistencies, and when there is inconsistency, I think you see growth and improvement. There’s just going to be certain things he’s going to go through for the first time that he’s gonna learn from, he’s going to get better from. He’s eager to get better. He thrives on that. And whatever situation you throw him into, even if at that moment it doesn’t go great, you can be pretty confident that he’s going to address it and respond to it and be better the next time.’’
That’s why Donovan had been petitioning for Dosunmu to make the Rising Stars game. It’s not only a big reward for a second-round pick, but it will give him a chance to absorb even more from the young elite players that he’ll be around.
“I’m not quite sure about all his relationships with players around the league that are close to his age or who he’s played against in high school or AAU, who he’s played against in college,’’ Donovan said. “But he’s a guy that when you throw him in experiences, he looks at the experience, and he’ll take something from it if he gets the opportunity.’’
Zach LaVine will find out Thursday if he made the All-Star Game as a reserve, but Donovan also could be joining the mix.
If the Bulls are atop the Eastern Conference after Sunday’s games, Donovan will be coaching in the All-Star Game.
“Obviously, it would be a great honor to be able to do something like that,’’ Donovan said. “It speaks to the players and the team. It would probably be something we all share in because you’ve got to finish in first place in the East.’’