When Chicago Bulls coach Billy Donovan decided to drop Ayo Dosunmu from the starting lineup last week, the second-year guard made his mindset clear — it’s a challenge, not a demotion.
The move to a reserve role is a game-changer for Dosunmu, who now splits time between playing on and off the ball after transitioning to the Bulls’ starting point guard as a rookie.
Although his role is slightly different, Dosunmu feels that the change also gives him the opportunity to play at a different pace with the bench unit.
“(Donovan) always encourages me to be aggressive, to keep making plays and to play with a lot of confidence,” Dosunmu said. “I’m still a playmaker. It will put me in more positions to be aggressive. Off the ball there are more scoring opportunities and I can just show my game.”
It’s a limited data set, but Dosunmu’s output has remained relatively consistent — 7.7 points, 2.7 assists, three rebounds — despite playing almost seven fewer minutes per game over his three nights. coming off the bench before the Bulls’ game Saturday night against the Dallas Mavericks at United Center. Dosunmu shares playmaking duties with Goran Dragić when he comes off the bench, but his expectations are the same: drive to the edge, move the ball, take all open 3-pointers.
Dosunmu spent his college career in Illinois moving back and forth between the two guard positions, providing him with familiarity in both places.
“He’s more effective when the ball is in his hands,” Donovan said. “He’s obviously a very good downhill player and he’s getting into the paint. For him, in terms of position, he will have to continue to evolve and improve at the point guard.
Aggressiveness is a key focus for Dosunmu when making the switch to secondary unit. For Donovan, one of the most important areas to highlight this part of his game is the open field, where the Bulls have made some much-needed improvements this season.
The Bulls still aren’t scoring as effectively in transition as Donovan would like, despite being third in the league in points on turnovers (20) and ninth in the league in steals (7.7). The bench unit has previously set the tone for this transition game between Alex Caruso’s defensive acumen and Dragić’s pushing nature.
With Dosunmu now in reserve, Donovan said the keeper could be the new driving force behind the group in transition.
“Transition volume is much better than a year ago,” Donovan said. “So we’re trying to take those transitional situations for him and get him to places where he’s on the open court and he can attack a bit more and play downhill and be a bit more aggressive there.”