Bulls rookie Ayo Dosunmu no longer sneaking up on teams, and it shows
Dosunmu has had a rough March, especially on the defensive end, as the rest of the NBA now has film on the Morgan Park standout.
NEW ORLEANS — The schedule hasn’t done rookie Ayo Dosunmu any favors.
March hasn’t exactly been kind to Dosunmu. His minutes have dipped, his three-point shooting percentage has all but flatlined and he has lost his starting job.
But most noticeable have been some rough defensive moments. Bad enough that coach Billy Donovan has had to pull him for a better bench option.
The level of competition has gone up — Dosunmu has been lined up against some of the league’s best — but Donovan said the best explanation for his struggles is a simple one that happens to many impactful first-year players: Dosunmu is no longer sneaking up on anyone.
“I think when a rookie comes in like [Dosunmu], who is a unique player and can do things on both ends of the floor, and then the way he competes and the way he plays, he can kind of catch you by surprise with the way he can impact the game and get himself into the game,’’ Donovan said. “You take a rookie like him coming off the bench, and now all of a sudden he’s a starter, and he’s one of the first five guys that’s going through the opponents’ scouting report, well, he’s scouted right now. There wasn’t enough information about him [earlier]. I think he’s being scouted. And this is really his growth to me as a player: How is he going to be able to counter that? The more film that’s out there on you, the more you’re going to see different things.’’
Donovan said he had a heart-to-heart with Dosunmu about that very topic, letting the second-round pick know that “he’s got a body of work right now where it’s like, ‘Hey, listen, this guy comes into the game, he’s starting, he’s made a huge impact for their team, and we’ve got to do a great job on him, and here’s what we’re going to do.’ ’’
Rather than trying to play through the screen on pick-and-roll, opposing defenses have simply dropped to protect the paint, daring Dosunmu to shoot from outside. Donovan thinks that has led to indecisiveness.
“He needs some solutions to help him,’’ Donovan said. “Just calling it like it is. He’s got to shoot that shot, and I’ve told him that. He’s going to come off [the screen], and he has to shoot because if you make a couple, then all of a sudden it’s going to open up your driving.’’
With forward DeMar DeRozan sidelined with a groin strain, Dosunmu was back in the starting lineup against the Pelicans.
Speaking of . . .
DeRozan described his strained left adductor as “nothing crazy,’’ but it was crazy enough to keep him out of the game Thursday, and his status for the game in Cleveland on Saturday is wait-and-see.
“It’s not anything significant, and on [Friday] we’ll get a better idea of where he’s at,’’ Donovan said.
“DeMar obviously knows his body better than anyone else. I think he felt like, ‘OK, this could get into something else a little more significant if I don’t take care of it.’ It went from tightness to he was feeling it in Milwaukee.’’
It was the fifth game DeRozan has missed this season.