Ayo Dosunmu has already seen a path for his in.
Unfortunately for the former Morgan Park High School standout it’s not a clear track by any means.
There’s a high-flying All-Star in Zach LaVine, now carrying a gold medal around the neck, a former No. 2 overall pick in Lonzo Ball, who excels at tempo and defense, a streak scorer in Coby White, and a world champion in Alec Caruso, who officially signed his four-year free-agent deal this week.
Each of them with better resumes than Dosunmu, each blocking his way to NBA playing time.
At least until Dosunmu put the numbers under a microscope earlier this week.
“I saw the Bulls added a lot of guards,” the Illinois standout said from the Summer League in Las Vegas. “But I also did a lot of research. Coach Billy Donovan, he loves to play a lot of three-guard offenses. I know if I just play hard, compete and bring a lot of energy, then I know it will take care of itself.”
Maybe it will.
After all, Donovan had no problem rolling out a lineup in which Garrett Temple, White, and LaVine all shared the floor at times last season.
Three very different skillsets, but an ability to each play off of each other.
What hurts Dosunmu, however, is his skillset is nowhere near any of those three players.
Sure, it’s only Summer League, but through the first three games, including the ugly 78-59 loss to Minnesota on Thursday, Dosunmu has shown signs with his defense and his willingness to attack the rim, but clearly has a ton of work to do in the shooting department.
In his three-game body of work, Dosunmu was shooting 7-for-24 (29%) from the field, including a dismal 1-for-7 performance against the Timberwolves.
He has been a solid rebounder for a backcourt starter, averaging five rebounds per game, and did have four steals in the comeback win over the Spurs on Tuesday, but the offense needs a lot of work.
Dosunmu’s immediate goal? Just play hard, and let the rest come his way by putting work in during practice time and extra work on the court.
“The advice I got was go out there and play hard,” Dosunmu said. “Just try to learn something new each game. That’s the best way you’re going to get better. That’s why you see some of the second-year guys performing so well because they have games under their belt and experience. That’s all it takes. Just trying to stay encouraged and keep building brick by brick.”
And slowly move away from shooting bricks.
Dosunmu was 0-for-4 from three-point range so far, but did finish his 2020-21 season with the Illini shooting 39% from three-point range. So expect that to improve.
Besides, the 38th overall pick from last month’s draft is not going to earn his ticket to playing time because of his outside shooting.
“He’s super versatile,” teammate Patrick Williams said of Dosunmu. “He can really defend as well. He’s been doing that pretty much all last week when we were at practice.
“But he just plays so hard … He’s one of the more vocal players that we have on the team, even as a rookie. Just nothing but praise from him. He’s been really good for our team, even when he’s not playing well at the time he’s always vocal. He’s always on the bench, standing up, giving energy pretty much anyway he can. He’s just a really good player.”
As far as the Summer League loss, the Bulls were once again led by Williams, who scored 18 and had 10 rebounds.
“I think in that first half we were a little stagnant,” Williams said of his latest performance. “When the shots weren’t falling, we went away from the offense, kind of started going one-on-one, and that’s my fault.”