Bulls are right to limit Ayo Dosunmu’s minutes despite fan outrage

Ayo Dosunmu, Chicago Bulls Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Ayo Dosunmu, Chicago Bulls Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports /

Following a nine-minute outing in Game 1, Chicago Bulls’ rookie Ayo Dosunmo is unlikely to see extended time in this first-round series against the Milwaukee Bucks. And somehow it’s caused fans to blow a gasket.

However, the Chicago native’s Cinderella story hasn’t come to a conclusion or even hit its climax. The Bulls simply have to go with their experienced players against the defending champions in what’s a do-or-die affair.

His benching isn’t indicative of skill, it’s more of a hiatus — one that may last for the entirety of their playoff run.

In his nine minutes against the Bucks in Game 1, Dosunmu scored zero points, grabbed two rebounds and dished out two assists. Tristian Thompson was the only rotation player who recorded less time on the court.

Thompson’s inability to match up with the Bucks was clear. The same could be said for Dosunmu, kind of.

Dosunmu wasn’t a complete liability on the floor. He managed to finish plus-one in the plus-minus category. He looked aggressive and wasn’t lost on rotations. The decision stems from the fact that the stars are going to play heavier minutes because, well, it’s the playoffs.

The team had a two-day break between Game 1 and Game 2. Donovan knew this going in, and adjusted his rotations to reflect that break.

"“I’ve got a lot of confidence in Ayo,” Donovan said after the game. “But I think as you get to this point in time in the playoffs, especially having two days in between games … you’re gonna look at DeMar, you’re gonna look at Zach and their minutes are gonna be a lot higher.”"

DeRozan played nearly 43 minutes while LaVine played 37 despite being in foul trouble. Alex Caruso, whose defense kept the team in the game, played 33 minutes. Coby White, whose shooting brought the team back from the a double-digit deficit, played 23 minutes.

Dosunmu isn’t beating any of those guys out. In the regular season, those players’ minute aren’t as high. Defensive intensity and shot making isn’t entirely life or death. In the playoffs, one mistake can change the outcome of a game, which why is the best players for each role play heavy minutes. Dosunmu isn’t one of the Bulls premier defenders, nor is he a knockdown shooter. Both are roles he can grow into, but as of now he isn’t there.

Right now, his game is that of a slasher. If the Bulls were playing the Boston Celtics, who run teams off the 3-point line without their shot blocker present, Dosunmu would be a good fit to get more time. But right now they’re playing the tallest team in the playoffs. Hitting outside jumpers can open up the lane, but team’s generally aren’t living in the paint against the Bucks.

That much was clear in the team’s regular season series. The Bucks swept the Bulls and Dosunmu didn’t have the greatest outputs in those losses. He shot 18% from 3-point range and 33% on drives. For the Bulls to avoid the same fate in the playoffs, they need outside shooting. The Bucks gamenplan is to trap their stars and force the role players to hit open shots. When White did exactly that, Chicago took the lead. That’s why White is and should get the nod from Donovan.

So what does this mean for Dosunmu in Game 2 and beyond? Unless there’s are a number of players in foul trouble or someone suffers an injury, he’ll likely have to wait his turn and prove himself worthy of playoff minutes next season.

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