Ayo Dosunmu has usurped Williams as Bulls’ most promising prospect

Ayo Dosunmu, Jimmy Butler, Chicago Bulls (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images)
Ayo Dosunmu, Jimmy Butler, Chicago Bulls (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images) /

After watching the Chicago Bulls’ top two prospects for the future out there on the court Wednesday night, I wouldn’t blame someone for confusing just who was the former No. 4 overall selection and who was the second-round pick that every other team foolishly passed over last year. With Zach LaVine and Lonzo Ball sidelined in a crucial regular season opener against the Miami Heat, it was Ayo Dosunmu who stepped up to lift the Bulls to victory ⁠— not Patrick Williams.

While DeMar DeRozan went to work carrying Chicago’s offense, Dosunmu filled the void left by LaVine better than anyone else could. Ayo was the Bulls’ second-leading scorer and delivered a dynamic performance, posting an impressive stat line of 17 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, and a block.

It felt like Ayo was everywhere on the court, making impact plays on defense and finding perfect opportunities to spot up and shoot 3-for-6 from beyond the arc. Dosunmu was also the only player to log as many minutes as DeRozan, spending a full 36 minutes on the court after averaging just 27 minutes per game as a rookie.

His impact on the game was easy to see, as not only did Dosunmu fill in for LaVine’s offensive production but he also served Lonzo’s role as the Bulls’ best point of attack defender on the perimeter. Ayo positively impacted the game with his versatile two-way ability, as evidenced by the fact the Bulls outscored Miami by 15 points whenever Dosunmu was on the court.

Best of all, Dosunmu’s mental game and ability as a leader seem to have already caught up to his actual physical ability as a player. See here, when Dosunmu confronts Andre Drummond respectfully and sets him straight after receiving a technical foul in the midst of a fourth quarter scoring drought.

Ayo Dosunmu has surpassed teammate Patrick Williams and risen to prominence as the Chicago Bulls’ best building block for the future.

Despite Dosunmu’s rapid growth with the Bulls, it’s still difficult to ignore the fact that Patrick Williams is failing to do everything that Ayo makes look so easy. Gifted with elite athleticism and all the intangibles he needs to succeed, it feels like we’re stuck in purgatory waiting for Pat to become the player we all assume he could one day become.

While Dosunmu was making the most of his newfound opportunity last night, Williams withered under the spotlight. Even with two starters ruled out due to injury, Williams failed to prove he deserved to be given a chance to rejoin the starting five against Miami. He contributed just 4 points and 2 rebounds on a very forgettable 2-for-6 shooting from the field.

Williams still seems to lack the assertiveness necessary to become a star in this league. At this rate, it’s not even a sure thing he’ll become a solid starting-caliber player. I’ll give Pat credit for taking strides to be more assertive and shoot the ball more, but his overall dejected demeanor coupled with the fact he seems to disappear for minutes at a time while on the court is making it increasingly more difficult to hold out hope for his development.

This comes in stark contrast to Dosunmu, who seems intent to seize the moment and do the small things at the margins that ultimately impact winning. Even Chicago’s newest rookie, Dalen Terry, seems to share in that warrior mentality even if he’s unlikely to see the court very often this season.

So this begs the question, what’s it going to take for Pat to take the leap?

He’s been fortunate enough to have DeRozan take him under his wing. He’s got Dosunmu and Terry next to him setting a great example of what we fans want to see from him. He doesn’t even have to be a featured option in the offense thanks to LaVine, DeRozan, and Nikola Vucevic. And still, it’s just not clicking.

After several years of disappointing lottery picks and failed development projects such as Kris Dunn, Lauri Markkanen, and Wendell Carter Jr., I believe the patience of Bulls fans has reached its end. Now is the time for Williams to find that next gear. Until he can do that, I feel very confident in passing the future of the Bulls on over to Ayo. He’s proven he’s ready to accept that mantle.

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