Tuesday, August 9, 2022

The Bulls’ rising star is considered the team’s most underrated player

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The Chicago Bulls put a lot of eggs in Patrick Williams’ basket. Up to this point, Williams has shown tremendous potential but has yet to consistently deliver it for a myriad of reasons.

However, another Bulls youngster has arguably shown more to start his career.

Williams will still grab plenty of headlines as he was selected in the 2020 NBA draft as a former fourth overall and is the first-draft pick for the current front-office regime.

But if they were targeting tangible attributes with Williams – height, length, skills – they went in a different direction the following year, targeting intangibles like energy and leadership through effort with Ayo Dosunmu.

The Bulls picked Dosunmu with the 38th overall pick in the 2021 NBA draft with their only pick. Despite an excellent college career at the University of Illinois that included back-to-back all-conference selections, he still slipped.

He started 40 games for a Bulls team plagued by injuries, particularly at guard post.

Rather than being overwhelmed, Dosunmu thrived, as explained by Bleacher Report’s Zach Buckley.

“Dosunmu’s first-year efforts haven’t entirely gone off the radar – he snagged a spot on the All-Rookie second team – but we might all have taken it for granted. What he was doing was not normal; He was just so smooth in his execution that he made it appear that way.”

The 6-foot-4 guard averaged 8.8 points, 3.3 assists and 2.8 rebounds per game during the regular season.

“Dosunmu didn’t impress with volume, but his efficiency would have impressed if it came from a five-year veteran, let alone a rookie runner-up. He shot 52 percent overall and 37.6 percent from distance, and he’s more than doubled his 1.4 turnovers with 3.3 assists.”

But he took off when he was included in the starting line-up following Lonzo Ball’s knee injury.

Dosumu averaged 11.0 points, 5.2 assists and 3.4 boards with 1.1 steals while hitting .521/.357/.775, and as of Jan. 15 still only turned the ball 1.8 times per contest around.

The emergence of Dosunmu has already cast doubt on Coby White’s future. Both are in their last year of contract. The second grader’s performance has already put his future with the Bulls in question.

But what does that mean for Williams?

There is outside pressure following the performance of Williams Florida State University alumnus Scottie Barnes for the Toronto Raptors last season as a rookie. Barnes walked away with the Rookie of the Year award. He’s also being pushed this season by his teammate and 18th overall pick of the 2022 NBA draft, Dalen Terry.

Finances aren’t as important as they are with White for Williams, an all-rookie selection in their own right.

According to Spotrac, after this season he still has a club option for the 2024 season on his contract.

But Williams’ passivity could grow old for a team to prove it more closely resembles the version that finished first in the Eastern Conference on Feb. 24 than the one that finished the regular season in sixth.

Conversely, Dosunmu’s development could buy Williams more time as the Bulls aren’t pushed for a versatile two-way playmaker as a cash-strapped (and frugal) team.

No matter how you look at it, Dosunmu has already exceeded expectations.

The impressive Dosunmu brings his talents to the big screen. He is scheduled to appear in an episode of HBO Max series “Southside”. Hometown players hold a special place in the heart of a fanbase, and Chicago is no different.

Dosunmu may not reach the heights reached by Chicago native Derrick Rose, or render Williams and/or White expendable.

But he doesn’t have to.

He’s already making a name for himself in a city and for a team rich in basketball history, despite being “underrated.”

Finances aren’t as important as they are with White for Williams, an all-rookie selection in their own right.

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