Sunday, October 2, 2022

Bulls cautioned for rising guard Ayo Dosunmu

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The Chicago Bulls telegraphed their anticipation of Lonzo Ball’s absence, which continues into the regular season. Her entire offseason could potentially have gone the same way had he been healthy, but it certainly fits her current circumstances.

Now, however, they must make the right choice to replace their starting point guard, as Ball faces a long road to recovery even if he is released back into basketball activity.

All of their options offer something different.

While the Bulls have several veteran options to turn to, attempts have been made to let second-year guard Ayo Dosunmu take the reins until Ball returns – the team are said to be looking at the youngster as a future starter. But there are also strong arguments against it and it has everything to do with youth.

The Bulls’ window to dispute with this group is now. Their off-ball time needs to be managed well enough that they’re at least in the playoff picture when he returns. And with their hard slate out the gates, they need a reassuring hand.

“As his minutes mounted in the second half of the season, Dosunmu showed signs of fatigue,” writes The Athletic’s Darnell Mayberry. “His surprising 3-point accuracy fell from 40.7 percent before the All-Star break to 31.7 percent after the break… The Bulls need consistent reliable performers [DeMar] DeRozan, [Zach] LaVine and Nikola Vucevic.”

Mayberry asks if it was just a rookie wall after jumping into the NBA or a sign Dosunmu was stretched a little too thin.

To his credit, the former 38th overall pick has stepped up this offseason to help.

And he showed rapid improvement when he stepped in as a starter last season. As Mayberry notes, there’s reason to believe another significant jump is possible in year two All Rookie Runner-up, but in due course.

If Dosunmu hit the rookie wall, there’s always a chance of a second-year dip this year.

“This is not the time to target development. If Dosunmu wins the job, he deserves it.”

Just because he doesn’t think he should start, Mayberry is very pleased with what Dosunmu was able to achieve in his first NBA season.

“Don’t forget the 40 games Dosunmu started last season, 38 of which were in Ball’s place. In this unexpected test run, Dosunmu performed about as well as could be expected from the 38th overall pick.

Dosunmu averaged 11 points, 5.3 assists and 3.6 rebounds in his starts after Ball’s injury.

But his declining play on the track led to head coach Billy Donovan choosing Alex Caruso once he was healthy enough and in the playoffs.

Mayberry says that makes Caruso an early “favorite” to get the starting job right away.

“Dosunmu benefited more than anyone from Ball and Caruso’s prolonged absences last season. He’s shown he can handle anything thrown his way and always seemed ready for more… But he’s getting better as the season progresses and won’t be at his best until Ball returns lineup was recorded.

Even if Dosunmu doesn’t get the starting shot right away, there’s always a chance he’ll end up there as early as midseason. He can earn it, as Mayberry suggests. Additionally, the Bulls could be in bad shape if the season goes as many expect.

The bulls were already considered a candidate for a major move at or around the February close.

That can be true when things are going well or badly.

Unfortunately for the Bulls, the more questions they seek for answers to the problems raised by Ball’s knee, the more questions arise. There are cases when all options need to be started. But her initial decision could go a long way in setting the tone for the rest of her wait until Ball is back in the group.

Mayberry says that makes Caruso an early “favorite” to get the starting job right away.

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