Bulls guards Coby White and Ayo Dosunmu finding minutes and roles

Ayo Dosunmu and Coby White have developed a solid friendship both on and off the basketball court for the Bulls.

So the idea that the two 21-year-olds are at all looking side-eyed at each other in competing for minutes just hasn’t been the case.

It helps that coach Billy Donovan continued carving out very different roles for each.

As further displayed in Tuesday’s blowout victory of the Pistons, Dosunmu is the energy guy off the bench. The job description is simple: Come in and make things happen on both ends of the floor.

The rookie did just that, subbing in for Derrick Jones Jr. with the Bulls sleepwalking through the first three minutes of the game, and turning a six-point deficit into a one-point lead very quickly.

“I just knew the way the game was going get in there and bring energy,” Dosunmu said. “Give a lift to get us going. Coach Donovan called upon us to play hard and defend, and that’s what I tried to do.”

And he did successfully.

“Ayo’s always been a really good motor guy,” Donovan said. “Ayo always comes in with a mentality to defend and be disruptive, be aggressive.”

Then there’s White, whose role is much simpler: Come in and score. Not exactly a directive that he needs to be told twice.

Entering Wednesday’s game with the Nets, White was averaging 18 points per game over his last six contests, shooting a ridiculous 61% from the field and 58% (18-for-31) from three. A much different look than the guy who was simply searching for a rhythm and a role back in November, coming off off-season shoulder surgery that cost him months of development.

That’s why Donovan has continued lifting White up, praising his improvements on the defensive end, his understanding of attacking the rim more, and calling him a “winning player.”

“I think that’s everybody’s goal that’s playing a sport – be a winning player,” White said of the praise. “That’s all I want to be. I don’t want to be known as a loser. So to get his respect means a lot.”

So does playing time, which both combo guards have been getting. White has averaged 31 minutes per game this month, while Dosunmu was averaging 24.4 minutes per game.

Where it will get interesting is what happens when Alex Caruso gets back, and even bigger picture, what happens at the trade deadline? White’s 2019 draft class is up for contract extensions this summer, so already facing an unfriendly location with the salary cap the Bulls have to decide if White is too important of a piece in an already crowded backcourt or should he be packaged for some much-needed help at the power forward spot?

First, it would have to be the right piece for the Bulls to even make that move by the Feb. 10 trade deadline, and second, there are concerns that a move like that could mess with a great chemistry this roster has built.

“I’m hoping [White’s] gaining some confidence in terms of his value for what he can do for our team,” Donovan said. “It’s an important role for us.”

Speaking of …

Caruso remained in the health and safety protocols, as his numbers continued to improve but not enough for him to test out. Donovan had a more realistic feel for Caruso’s week, already ruling him out for the Friday game with the Warriors.

If anything, don’t expect him back until some point next week at the earliest, as Donovan said that once he does test out the medical staff wants time to get his conditioning in a better place.

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