Bulls’ Ayo Dosunmu reignites the hype
On a team with Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan and Nikola Vucevic, you wouldn’t expect the media to flock to a rookie as he continues to tell his story. Then again, very little Dosunmu has done this season fits the norm.
It would be nice if the media could have an Ayo break.
Unfortunately, just when the Ayo Dosunmu story seems to have reached the end of another chapter, the kid from Morgan Park High School does something else unexpected.
After Sunday’s blowout win over Portland, Dosunmu was in the headlines for his 11-assist performance. No biggie? Considering he just had the starting-point-guard duties dropped on him a few weeks earlier, yes, it was a biggie.
Then came the follow-up Tuesday. Dosunmu learned before the game against Orlando that he was one of only two players selected outside the first round to make the rookie squad for the Rising Stars game during All-Star Weekend. He then went out against the Magic and played late-game hero, hitting a huge 17-footer with 2:19 left to turn a four-point lead into six. Thirty seconds later, Dosunmu provided the dagger, nailing a three-pointer.
No wonder veteran DeMar DeRozan hugged Dosunmu in celebration.
“That’s my big brother,’’ Dosunmu said of DeRozan and his reaction. “Our relationship got tighter. He definitely has made my rookie season easier, giving me so much wisdom, giving me so much knowledge. Giving me the hug goes back to that [recent talk].’’
That “recent talk’’ Dosunmu was referring to happened at take-off of the team charter after a Jan. 23 loss in Orlando and didn’t end until the flight landed in Oklahoma City.
“The whole three hours, he was just talking to me, giving me different NBA lessons,’’ Dosunmu recalled of the conversation with DeRozan. “Mistakes that he made, how I could change and be better.’’
Dosunmu not only pays attention to those lessons, but puts them in practice.
Since Day 1 when the team started playing pickup before camp even started, veterans DeRozan, Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic noticed how quick of a learner the 38th overall pick from Illinois was. Now the secret is out nationally.
On a recent broadcast, 13-time NBA All-Star — and fellow Chicagoan — Dwyane Wade was talking about Dosunmu and said, “He knows how to play the game of basketball. He can come in right away, he can take charges and he can defend the other team’s best player. Some nights you see him scoring in the 20s. This kid right here is one of those guys, he’s like a Kawhi Leonard, like you got somebody that’s a diamond in the rough. If you continue to add to his game, he can be a featured guy, like a Jimmy Butler once became.’’
Strong comments from one of the league’s greats, but not an exaggeration, either.
The sky really is the limit for Dosunmu, not only because of his skills but his work ethic. Then add that chip on the shoulder that draft night provided, and the Bulls may have grabbed something truly special.
Tuesday’s win over the Magic was a reminder of that, especially with Dosunmu showing he doesn’t flinch in crunch time.
“Just from a young age, I always had the confidence to know that what you work on when the lights are off, by yourself, late nights, early mornings, I tend to have the confidence to take the shots on the biggest stage,’’ Dosunmu said. “That went on during my high school career, my college career and then it’s something that was always instilled in me.’’
The Bulls have a lot going on Thursday. A rematch with Toronto from last week, and LaVine likely being named an All-Star reserve.
A perfect night for the media to take a break from all things Ayo and his accomplishments.
Just don’t count on Dosunmu cooperating.