Bulls rookie Ayo Dosunmu’s minutes could be in jeopardy against Bucks

The Ayo Dosunmu, kid from Chicago, Cinderella story hasn’t ended now that the Bulls were knee-deep in the intensity of postseason basketball.

Call it taking a hiatus.

But for how long? That’s where it gets a bit tricky for coach Billy Donovan in this first round playoff series with the Bucks.

In Sunday’s Game 1 loss, the Morgan Park standout came off the bench and played just under nine minutes total. Veteran Tristan Thompson was the only regular rotation player that put in less time than Dosunmu, as Donovan pushed the eject button on Thompson when it became obvious that the center wouldn’t work in what he was looking to get out of his rotations.

The same could be said for Dosunmu. Sort of.

It wasn’t that Dosunmu didn’t work out there. The rookie actually was a plus-1 in the plus-minus category even with the short stints. He just might not be what the Bulls need from the bench against Milwaukee.

“In a playoff series you need to keep all the guys ready, and all the guys need to stay ready,” Donovan said, when discussing Dosunmu and his rotations. “I didn’t think for us the rotations were a problem or an issue. I think the guys that were out there did a pretty good job.

“I’ve got a lot of confidence in Ayo. But I think as you get to this point in time in the playoffs, especially having two days in between games … you’re gonna look at DeMar [DeRozan], you’re gonna look at Zach [LaVine] and their minutes are gonna be a lot higher.”

That’s the first part of why Dosunmu’s playing time was compromised

DeRozan played just under 43 minutes in that Game 1, and LaVine was at 36-plus minutes even in foul trouble. Considering Alex Caruso was back in the starting rotation after dealing with back issues, that three-guard attack gobbled up Dosunmu’s ability to grab impactful minutes.

Secondly, there’s the idea that styles make the fight, and what the Bucks do defensively just doesn’t play well with where the second-round pick’s game is right now. At least where his game was the last six weeks of the regular season.

Milwaukee will allow open threes to role players. What they don’t allow very often is opposing players driving to the hoop.

In his 15 games during the month of March, Dosunmu was playing 31 minutes per contest, but also shot a dismal 25.6% from three-point range. This from the same player that shot 40.7% from long range in his first 54 games going into the All-Star Break.

Enter Coby White.

While White isn’t the defender or playmaker that Dosunmu has proven to be, that second unit needs outside shooting. Reserves Javonte Green and Derrick Jones Jr. are forwards that Donovan can throw on all-world 2021 Finals MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, but won’t be counted on to score much. White can, and did.

In his 23 minutes of work, White scored 12 points, including two threes. Even his defense was serviceable.

“I thought I played solid, man,” White said. “To me I was focused on the defensive end. Just trying to bring the energy and help my teammates anyway I could.”

So what does this mean for Dosunmu in Game 2 and beyond? Unless there’s foul trouble or an injury, he might just have to wait his turn. A wait that could come in a lot of time sitting.

“It don’t really mean nothing,” White said of jumping Dosunmu in the rotation. “Ayo’s going to get an opportunity sometime in this series. I know he’s going to be ready for it. For both of us, we’re just staying ready and try and help the team with whatever we can.”

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