Bulls rookie Ayo Dosunmu’s minutes might be in jeopardy against Bucks
The former Morgan Park standout got just under nine minutes of playing time in Game 1 and might not be what the Bulls need from the bench in this first-round playoff series.
Chicago native Ayo Dosunmu’s Cinderella story hasn’t ended now that the Bulls are knee-deep in the intensity of playoff basketball.
Call it taking a hiatus.
But for how long? That’s where it gets tricky for coach Billy Donovan in the first-round playoff series against the defending champion Bucks.
In the Bulls’ loss Sunday in Game 1, Dosunmu — a rookie who played at Morgan Park and Illinois — came off the bench and played just less than nine minutes. Veteran big man Tristan Thompson was the only regular member of the rotation who played less.
Donovan went away from Thompson when it became obvious he wouldn’t work in what Donovan was looking to get out of his rotations. The same could be said for Dosunmu — sort of.
It wasn’t exactly that Dosunmu didn’t work — the Bulls were a plus-1 with him on the court, even with the short stints — but he might not be what they need from the bench against the Bucks.
‘‘In a playoff series, you need to keep all the guys ready and all the guys need to stay ready,’’ Donovan said. ‘‘I didn’t think the rotations were a problem or an issue. I think the guys that were out there did a pretty good job.
‘‘I’ve got a lot of confidence in Ayo. But I think as you get to this point in the playoffs, especially having two days in between games . . . you’re gonna look at DeMar [DeRozan], you’re gonna look at Zach [LaVine], and their minutes are gonna be a lot higher.’’
That’s the first part of why Dosunmu’s playing time was down. DeRozan played just less than 43 minutes in Game 1 and LaVine was at 36-plus minutes, even though he was in foul trouble. And with Alex Caruso back in the starting lineup after dealing with back issues, that gobbled up Dosunmu’s ability to grab important minutes.
Second, there’s the idea that styles make the fight and that what the Bucks do defensively doesn’t play well with where Dosunmu’s game is right now. Well, at least where his game was in the last six weeks of the regular season.
The Bucks will allow role players to take open three-pointers. What they don’t allow very often is opposing players driving to the hoop.
In 15 games in March, Dosunmu averaged 31 minutes but shot 25.6% from three-point range. He shot 40.7% from long range in his first 54 games.
Enter Coby White.
While White isn’t the defender or playmaker Dosunmu has shown himself to be, the Bulls’ second unit needs outside shooting. Javonte Green and Derrick Jones Jr. are forwards Donovan can use against Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo, but they can’t be counted on to score much. White can — and did.
In 23 minutes in Game 1, White scored 12 points and made two three-pointers. Even his defense was serviceable.
‘‘I thought I played solid, man,’’ White said. ‘‘To me, I was focused on the defensive end. Just trying to bring the energy and help my teammates any way I could.’’
So what does this mean for Dosunmu in Game 2 and beyond? Unless there’s foul trouble or an injury, he just might have to wait his turn.
‘‘It don’t really mean nothing,’’ White said of jumping Dosunmu in the rotation. ‘‘Ayo’s going to get an opportunity sometime in this series. I know he’s going to be ready for it. For both of us, we’re just staying ready and trying to help the team with whatever we can.’’