Bulls: Ayo Dosunmu’s offseason growth looks extremely promising

Ayo Dosunmu, Chicago Bulls (Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports)
Ayo Dosunmu, Chicago Bulls (Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports) /

Of all the biggest surprises the 2020-21 season held for the Chicago Bulls, the emergence of Ayo Dosunmu had to be the biggest of them all. After being selected 38th in the second round of the NBA Draft, Ayo set out on a personal mission to embarrass every team that passed him up. In the end, he’d end up being quite successful on his mission and now can turn his attention toward continual improvement until he’s a household name in the NBA.

After permanently moving up into the starting lineup to compensate for the loss of Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso on January 15, Dosunmu posted an impressive 11 points, 5.2 assists, and 3.4 rebounds per game on an excellent true shooting percentage of 59.7%. Ayo would be rewarded for his efforts by being named to the 2021 All-Rookie Second Team, which was quite the accomplishment for such a loaded draft class.

Don’t expect him to be satisfied yet, however, as there are still plenty of benchmarks left for him to clear. Becoming a starting-caliber player is certainly one, and we can expect Dosunmu to put in maximum effort to secure an extension as he enters a contract year as well. Until he achieves these goals, he’ll continue putting in the work and capitalizing on any available opportunity to impress.

As seen in recent workout photos, it’s clear that Dosunmu has prioritized adding mass to his 200-pound frame in an effort to force mismatches more often and create his own shot consistently.

Ayo Dosunmu’s ability to take the next step may ultimately be the ceiling-raiser the Chicago Bulls need to become true contenders.

One thing that really benefitted Dosunmu last season was Chicago’s willingness to employ three-guard lineups. When you have as much backcourt talent as the Bulls do, it almost feels like a missed opportunity not using it to its full potential.

Fortunately, Dosunmu did not get buried in a deep rotation and went on to have a very successful season despite his status as a rookie. However, there’s no guarantee those minutes will be available once again when Lonzo Ball presumably returns as a healthy and fully recovered man. It’s for this reason, in particular, that I believe bulking up is a genius move on Ayo’s behalf.

Instead of contending with Ball, Zach LaVine, Alex Caruso, and Coby White for minutes in the backcourt, Dosunmu is putting himself in a position to serve as either a flexible guard or an agile forward. Although he stands at 6’5, he was woefully skinny and undersized to play substantial minutes at the 3. Now, he can play wherever the Bulls need him to and strike whenever opportunities for more minutes come along.

These new photos of a bulkier Ayo aren’t just a coincidence or a favorable angle, as Chicago Bulls strength and conditioning coach Geoff Puls has shared updates on Dosunmu’s progress all throughout the summer.

Dosunmu joins JaVonte Green, Derrick Jones Jr., and the recently drafted Dalen Terry as players on Chicago’s bench that can play multiple positions and fill in whenever needed. This level of positional flexibility is almost necessary for a modern NBA that requires switchable defenses that can guard both the perimeter and interior simultaneously.

This added size won’t just benefit Dosunmu on the defensive side of things either, as it will go a long way towards helping him hit driving lanes hard and combat with an NBA level of strength and size that he never had to deal with at Illinois.

If he’s to reach that next level, Ayo couldn’t ask for a better mentor or profound source of basketball knowledge than the one he’s got in DeMar DeRozan. So far, DeRozan has had nothing but great things to say about the promising guard.

"“For [Dosunmu] to be on a great team, the presence he brings, you wouldn’t think he is a rookie. You gotta be special to carry yourself in that type of way. It’s not in an arrogant way because he is one of those guys that is so inquisitive and always asking questions and always consistently trying to find ways of learning.”"

Being a 22-year-old rookie, Dosunmu has quickly proven he’s made good use of his additional time in college and has already begun setting to correcting any errors in his game. All too often, we see incredible talents exit college without the basketball IQ to address their weaknesses nor the work ethic to turn those weaknesses into strengths.

Dosunmu falls into neither of those categories, instead appearing to take the more difficult path to become a featured part of this Chicago Bulls team. For the sake of this franchise and any future championship aspirations, let’s hope Ayo Dosunmu’s positive trajectory is only just now beginning to take flight.

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