Bulls rookie Ayo Dosunmu might be buried on the team’s depth chart, but he has time to change minds. | Joe Scarnici/Getty Images
The former Illinois standout is being used as a combo guard through the first week of training camp, but will his toughness and aggression help earn him real minutes when the regular-season games start?
The regular-season depth chart is the bad news for Ayo Dosunmu.
He’s not completely buried on it, but the dirt is at least waist deep.
At the point guard spot, the combo guard is behind the likes of Lonzo Ball, Coby White and Alex Caruso. At the two guard there’s All-Star Zach LaVine, again White and Caruso, and even Troy Brown Jr.
What the rookie should be focused on, however, is he has two more weeks to change minds.
The Bulls start the exhibition season Tuesday night at the United Center, hosting Cleveland and looking to get playing time for a good chunk of the roster.
Second-round rookie selections obviously included.
And while a strong showing in the exhibition season likely won’t be changing positioning in the current rotation, it could go a long way in building trust once the games count. Trust that Dosunmu can see playing time off the bench, and trust that he can be a player that with development has a promising future with his home-team’s organization.
“He’s pretty damned good,” veteran DeMar DeRozan said of Dosunmu, when asked about his camp impressions of the former Morgan Park High School standout. “I remember him in college [at Illinois] as well, watching him play all through the summer league. Very tough, very tough. Creative with the ball, aggressive. Great touch around the rim. His ability to score the ball is amazing. Every single day he goes out there to take on the challenge to go out there and compete. Nothing but high praise for him.”
Praise that could carry weight.
With White still recovering from offseason shoulder surgery and possibly another month away from a full return, Dosunmu is one of the candidates to get minutes vacated by White.
Even when White does return and is healthy, injuries happen, so depth at both guard spots will be a necessity.
“I’ve been really impressed with him,” coach Billy Donovan said of Dosunmu. “Not about the way necessarily he’s played, and he’s played well, [but] just his disposition. Just his competitiveness. Just his mindset. The way he throws himself in there, and the way he competes. He’s really, really crafty of being able to get by people and around people and to the rim. I think his three-point shooting will improve as all guys do up here over time.
“But I do think, for me personally, I love guys with that kind of mentality. You know, talking about Alex [Caruso], talking about him, there’s a toughness and a competitiveness to those guys that they’re just not afraid, and I think Ayo’s got that.”
Which could be Dosunmu’s best track into the mix.
It’s safe to say that last year’s Bulls roster didn’t really intimidate opposing teams when it came to the toughness department.
A skillset that was obviously addressed in the offseason make-over.
Caruso, DeRozan and even Ball have reputations as either tough-minded players or tough defenders, and that trait hasn’t been lost on Dosunmu.
Even if it means eventually getting playing time with the G-League Windy City Bulls just to get minutes and stay in game shape, he’s all in for whatever is asked of him.
“Being a rookie this is the best time to absorb as much knowledge as I can because coming right in there’s not going to be much asked of me,” Dosunmu said. “Anything that I want I have to go out and prove each and every day in practice. That’s what I’m trying to do.
“I talk with a lot of guys. I ask a ton of questions, just trying to get better each and every day. That’s all it is. Each and every practice getting in the best shape I can be, being the best teammate I can be because in an 82-game season be ready whenever my number is called.”
No matter how the depth chart reads.