Bulls guard Ayo Dosunmu is making an impact, but for how long?Joe Cowleyon November 9, 2021 at 5:06 pm

The Bulls’ Ayo Dosunmu revs up the United Center crowd after hitting a shot against the Brooklyn Nets. | Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Morgan Park High School product has already jumped Troy Brown Jr. in the rotation, but with combo guard Coby White’s return on the horizon, what then? Considering Dosunmu’s small sample of a resume, White might be a trade chip.

Ayo Dosunmu wasn’t simply handed Troy Brown Jr.’s minutes.

The Bulls rookie took them.

In Monday’s 118-95 blowout win over the Nets, Dosunmu confirmed why the decision was a smart one.

During the avalanche that was the 42-17 fourth-quarter domination, the Morgan Park High School product was key in the home team’s run.

There was the drive-and-one with 9:41 left that put the Bulls up four and started the blowout. There was the grip and rip of a LaMarcus Aldridge apparent offensive rebound, stealing a possession away from Brooklyn. Then there was the dagger three with 4:56 left that put the Bulls up 14, snatching any life that the Nets had left.

Moments like that have coach Billy Donovan describing Dosunmu as having that “it factor.”

“To me, it’s all about his makeup, to me,” Donovan said of Dosunmu. “You can watch a guy play for 10 minutes and you can figure out if he can play or not. It takes a long time to figure out that it factor. He’s got the it factor. And what I mean by that is, he’s gonna impact the game. And he’s got a great drive. He’s incredibly motivated. He balances really well that line of being confident but not coming across arrogant. He’s a fearless competitor. And I think that kind of mindset is gonna serve him well going forward. He can’t lose that, because to me that’s gotta be his identity.”

An identity that has Dosunmu firmly imprinted into the Bulls rotation, while Brown continued slipping into the shadows.

In four of the first five games to start the regular season, Brown was given double-digits in playing time, averaging 15.25 minutes per game. Dosunmu was mostly mop-up, and even got the DNP [Did Not Play] Coach’s Decision in Toronto.

Oh how things have changed.

In the last five games, Dosunmu is averaging 17.8 minutes per game, while Brown has five total minutes logged over that span, with three DNPs.

The reason is simple: Dosunmu just impacts winning. Sure, the United Center crowd feeds off of cheering on one of their own in Dosunmu, but he’s just more impactful than Brown. The crowd recognizes that, and Dosunmu’s teammates feel it.

“Whether it’s guarding somebody, being ready to knock down a shot, being in transition, being aggressive, getting downhill, finishing,” veteran forward DeMar DeRozan said of Dosunmu. “He does a lot of things that you don’t see in a lot of young guys in their first year.

“And it makes it even sweeter being home for him, getting the crowd behind us. If he sneezes out there, the crowd will get excited. So you definitely gotta feed off it.”

But for how long?

Coby White has been cleared for full contact in the wake of offseason shoulder surgery, and was scheduled to start practicing with the team. The reason Brown and Dosunmu were getting playing time was because there was a minutes vacancy left by White.

With the second unit looking for scoring, especially from beyond the three-point line, White would seemingly be a better fit. One problem — White isn’t a two-way player like Dosunmu has shown to be. The Bulls may need that more than a streaky shooting addition like White.

The Sun-Times labeled White as a possible trade candidate in the preseason, and there is growing momentum nationally that he could be looked at come deadline time.

Until then, however, Donovan will be walking a fine line with a crowded backcourt on making sure White is producing while Dosunmu continues developing.

“Whether Coach Donovan plays me two minutes or 15-20 minutes, I try to come in with energy and positivity and just have fun,” Dosunmu said of whatever happens. “I try to impact the game any way I can.”

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