It’s not a real party until Chance the Rapper arrives.
Of the 60 players drafted into the NBA on Thursday night, not many could make that bold statement and mean it.
Ayo Dosunmu could.
“After one of my games my junior year [at Illinois] he reached out to me,’’ Dosunmu said of his relationship with the Chicago-born rapper. “He just said he was proud of me and that I [should] continue to put on for the city, and when I sent out the invitations for my draft party I told him to slide by. He came and he showed support. He was there, polite … yeah, that’s my guy.’’
For that reason alone, Dosunmu — a former standout at Morgan Park High School — should be considered one of the bigger winners to come out of the 2021 draft. Killer draft party, hometown kid drafted in the second round by the hometown-team Bulls with the only pick they had on the night. The perfect Hollywood script.
One problem: The combination guard felt like he was a first-round talent and should have gone higher than 38th overall.
“I know I’m a first-round talent,’’ Dosunmu said. “But you can’t [know] what God has planned for you. And God wanted me to play for my city. So that’s what I’m going to do. I’m embracing it.’’
Did the Bulls add a game-changer in the 6-foot-4 Dosunmu? Likely not. He’s a jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none player, who could immediately give the Bulls a versatile backcourt option off the bench. There is a ceiling to change that trajectory, but will only come with a lot of hard work and opportunity.
The Bulls fan base — which has a history of getting over-excited about hometown players making good by reaching the Association — walked out of the draft thumping its chest and feeling like winners, but the Bulls ticket office should have been the ones really smiling.
A ridiculously loyal fan base now has another reason to blindly throw money at a product that hasn’t seen the postseason since 2017.
The real winners from Thursday’s draft:
1. “Houston … you no longer have a problem” — James Harden’s departure seemed to leave the franchise spiraling last season, but nothing like a loaded draft class for a quick fix. The Rockets grabbed electric scorer Jalen Green with the No. 2 overall pick, then added three high-upside players to go with him in Alperen Sengun, Usman Garuba and Josh Christopher.
2. Golden options — The Warriors had two lottery picks to play with, and the expectation was they could trade one or both to try and add proven veteran talent. That could still happen, as they hit pay dirt in landing small forward Jonathan Kuminga at No. 7 and then Moses Moody at No. 14, but this is a front office that is simply reloading rather than rebuilding.
3. A bit defensive — Are the Orlando Magic suddenly a playoff threat? Not even close. But it was Christmas in July for the franchise, as Jalen Suggs slid a spot to No. 5. With the No. 8 pick they received from the Bulls in the Nikola Vucevic deal, they then grabbed versatile forward Franz Wagner. Two great defenders to go along with a roster that currently has defensive-minded players like Gary Harris and Wendell Carter Jr.
4. “De-Troit Basketball …” — Joakim Noah made his feelings about Cleveland very clear years ago, insisting he’s never heard anyone say “I’m going to Cleveland on vacation.” The same could be said about Detroit. That’s what made the Cade Cunningham selection so refreshing. The No. 1 overall pick wanted to be a Piston, and was embracing the Detroit underdog role in every interview. He has the talent and mindset to put a dismal franchise back on an NBA radar they haven’t appeared on since 2004.
5. Hot-lanta —The Hawks have already arrived on the playoff scene, and then added two big-swing prospects in Jalen Johnson and Sharife Cooper. If Cooper — picked at No. 48 — does what he’s capable of at point guard, the Bulls could be kicking themselves for passing on him years from now.