The Chicago Bulls have had a season filled with injuries. The team has been without Patrick Williams, Coby White, Lonzo Ball, Alex Caruso, and Derrick Jones Jr. for extended periods of time throughout the season.
So far the Bulls have successfully been able to navigate those injuries and keep themselves in a decent position for the playoffs. They are currently 42-29 and sitting in fifth place in the Eastern Conference as they are starting to get healthy. The only player still out for the Bulls is Ball.
While the Bulls have been shorthanded they’ve been able to successfully tread water thanks to some terrific play from DeMar DeRozan. Another key piece for the Bulls has been the terrific play out of rookie Ayo Dosunmu.
The rookie has started 31 games for the Bulls this season, averaging 8.6 points, 3.3 assists, and 2.8 rebounds per game. He’s also been efficient, shooting 52.2% from the field and 39.1% from three.
Dosunmu’s play has caught the attention of many people across the league and some think he could be in line for an all-rookie distinction. In Bleacher Report’s latest Rookie of the Year Ladder Zach Buckley has him rated as the eighth-best rookie this season.
As a defense-first role player on a team with several high-level scorers, Dosunmu doesn’t always get the spotlight time he deserves. Even this ranking might undersell his achievements (a 52.2/39.1/67.2 shooting slash and 3.3 assists against 1.3 turnovers per game), which is a huge testament to last year’s No. 38 pick. When injuries forced him into the starting lineup in mid-January, that could have drowned the Bulls. Instead, he helped them tread water (14-16 since Jan. 15).
If Buckley’s rankings are close to accurate then Dosunmu could be selected to the NBA’s All-Rookie second team. What he’s accomplished this season is truly impressive, especially when you factor in that he fell to the second round of the draft.
Off the Bench Role
As the Bulls continue to get healthier it is expected that Dosunmu will move back to a role coming off the bench as he did earlier in the season. With the experience that he has gained while starting, Dosunmu should still be able to be productive coming off the bench.
Dosunmu came off the bench in Monday night’s win over the Raptors and was effective scoring 11 points and dishing out 6 assists in 24 minutes. It’s a small sample size, but it’s encouraging that he didn’t let coming off the bench affect his play.
With Dosunmu moving back to coming off the bench the Bulls’ second unit has a chance to provide some excitement. With Dosunmu coming off the bench along with Williams and White it will give Bulls fans a chance to see how their young players can fare together.
As shorthanded as the Bulls have been for the last few months it will be big for them to have a bench unit that can give them some production. How far the Bulls can go this season could depend on a lot on their depth down the stretch, considering how shorthanded they’ve been this season.