Bulls’ Ayo Dosunmu consistently flashing two-way talent originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
Presented by Nationwide Insurance Agent Jeff Vukovich
CLEVELAND — Billy Donovan has consistently said over Ayo Dosunmu’s first three seasons in the NBA that he doesn’t know what Ayo Dosunmu’s ceiling is.
But whatever it is, Donovan believes Dosunmu will get there because of his work ethic and care factor.
Dosunmu offered the latest teaser at his two-way potential in Monday’s dominant performance to fuel a critical road victory over the Atlanta Hawks. Not only did Dosunmu sink a career-high five 3-pointers for the second straight game and score a career-high 29 points, he harassed Trae Young along with Jevon Carter to force the All-Star guard into 3-for-14 shooting.
“My length, I would say, is able to affect him,” Dosunmu said. “He’s an All-Star who brings competitiveness out. I love competing against him because every play, you gotta be ready. He can reject [the screen]. He’s a pick-and-roll maestro. He throws the lob, throws to the corner.
“I was telling [assistant coach] Mo Cheeks, this is my third year now playing against him. So we’ve had a lot of battles. It’s fun. Just keep stacking it up. That’s what you want in the NBA, to be able to guard the best, compete against the best.”
The development of Dosunmu and Coby White represent two of the most positive stories from this up-and-down Bulls season. And as Donovan likes to point out: Credit goes to both players because of the work they invested.
That said, both White and Dosunmu have openly talked about how much director of player development Peter Patton has helped them. Hired last offseason as a shooting coach to oversee the growing player development program, Patton, a local product like Dosunmu, is paying dividends.
“Coach P has been tremendous with me,” Dosunmu said. “Every day, in the morning, post-shootaround, I text him. He has done a great job of allowing me to understand my shot and find out what’s the best way I can be effective using my jump shot. And he’s very blunt with me. If I shoot a couple the wrong way, he always corrects me right away. And I thank him for that.
“He’s sending me film at nighttime saying, ‘This is a good shot. This is a bad shot.’ And we have a relationship where he can coach me hard.”
Dosunmu said Patton has most specifically aided him to hold his follow-through and position his shot similarly each time. Dosunmu is now shooting a career-high 41.1 percent on career-high volume of 3.2 attempts.
“I think part of the reason he has shot the ball better is he has invested a lot of time in it,” Donovan said. “But he’s also always ready to shoot. He has his feet and his hands ready.”
For this, Dosunmu credited Donovan, specifically citing a film session following the road loss to the New York Knicks as a turning point.
“Coach Billy in the film [session] he told me you should be a 40 percent 3-point shooter. But every time in the game against the Knicks, my knees were straight up. I wasn’t ready to shoot,” Dosunmu said. “He said if you just get shot ready, it will help your shot go in more often. I took that constructive criticism and since then, it’s felt much better.”
Indeed, Dosunmu is shooting 59.2 percent overall and 52.5 percent over his last 14 games, 13 of which have produced double-figure scoring outings. His sudden emergence as a perimeter shooter aids his ability to push the pace in transition and his growth in changing speeds.
Donovan noted how Dosunmu typically played at one speed at Illinois and that speed was superior to his opponents. Now he’s in a league and on a level with other athletes just as gifted as Dosunmu is.
“I think he has a much better feel of how he’s being guarded and what are his things he can go to with the way he’s being guarded,” Donovan said. “A lot of times teams are trying to keep him out of the lane so they run under on a lot of screens or back off him. And he’s got confidence in shooting.”
Dosunmu’s support system runs deep. The Morgan Park High School product spent much of the offseason working out in Chicago with his brother and father when he wasn’t at the Advocate Center.
“He’s got incredible stamina and endurance. It’s a skill. [Udonis] Haslem had it. Joakim [Noah] had it. The more fatigued and tired they get, the more stubborn they get and the more competitive and the more they push. He’s got that in him. He can keep his motor running high.
“For him to do what he did offensively and then to play the defense he did was a pretty remarkable performance with the number of minutes he got.”
Whether or not it represents Dosunmu’s ceiling is a story yet to be written.
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