Ayo Dosunmu

Bulls Notes: Dosunmu, Markkanen, Williams, Ball, White

Second-year Bulls point guard Ayo Dosunmu wants his head coach Billy Donovan to hold nothing back in his approach, and Donovan has delivered, writes Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic. Mayberry notes that Donovan is generally more conversant with younger Chicago players than he is with the team’s vets.

“He just wants me to reach my full potential,” Dosunmu said of Donovan. “He tells me a lot. He’s always coaching with tough love. I love that because that’s making me become a better player. I want to soak up as much information as I can to try to get better every game. Coach does that. He’s always on me when I do things positive and negative. And I think at the end of the day that’s going to make me become a better player and help our team become a better team.”

In his second NBA season, the 6’5″ guard out of Illinois is averaging 11.7 PPG on .488/.353/.923 shooting splits. He is also chipping in 3.8 RPG, 3.2 APG and 0.8 SPG.

There’s more out of the Windy City:

  • Seven-foot Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen, drafted by the Bulls with the No. 7 pick in 2017 out of Arizona, has enjoyed a breakout run with an upstart 10-5 Utah club thus far. Chicago can learn a lot from Markkanen’s growth into a fringe All-Star talent, especially with regards to the way the team handles raw third-year forward Patrick Williams, opines K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago.
  • Although the Bulls are clearly missing the three-point marksmanship and perimeter defense of injured starting point guard Lonzo Ball, the team’s bigger problems will remain even after he returns, Johnson writes in a separate piece. The Bulls lack reliable volume three-point shooters and solid two-way players, which is part of the reason Chicago has is off to a middling 6-9 start this season.
  • Young Bulls role players Williams and Coby White are listed as questionable to play on Friday against a beatable 4-11 Magic team, reports Rob Schafer of NBC Sports Chicago. White’s status actually represents an improvement, as he has missed the last eight Chicago contests with a left quad contusion. Williams sprained his right ankle late in the Bulls’ 124-110 loss to the Pelicans on Wednesday.

Bulls Notes: LaVine, Dosunmu, Williams, Drummond, White

Bulls star Zach LaVine played in both games of a back-to-back set for the first time this season on Tuesday and Wednesday, suiting up in Brooklyn vs. the Nets and then at home vs. the Hornets. LaVine scored just 10 points on 4-of-16 shooting on Wednesday, but said after the win that his surgically repaired knee wasn’t an issue, as Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago writes.

“I felt good. My legs were tired. A couple of my shots were short,” LaVine said. “But, you know, it was one of them games.”

Given how carefully the Bulls have managed LaVine so far this season coming off left knee surgery, it’s a cause for optimism that he logged a total of 69 minutes across those two games and came out feeling OK. Still, head coach Billy Donovan said the team will continue to take a day-to-day approach to how it handles LaVine’s workload and availability, according to Schaefer.

“I think the thing for him is it’s the cumulative,” Donovan said on Tuesday, per Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. “That’s really where I think (the medical staff is) concerned, like the cumulative buildup of things. He could be totally fine today, come out of this game totally fine. Then let’s say he plays tomorrow. He can wake up the next day and be in some discomfort.”

Here’s more on the Bulls:

  • Ayo Dosunmu, who has emerged as the Bulls’ starting point guard in his second NBA season, has impressed his teammates with his leadership, as Schaefer details in another NBC Sports Chicago story. “He steps up to the challenge all the time. Ayo even in his second year is a vocal leader,” LaVine said on Tuesday. “He helps pick up our energy, offensively, defensively, just the way he carries himself.”
  • There have been questions about whether Patrick Williams should keep his spot in the Bulls’ starting lineup, but the former No. 4 overall pick had his best game of the season on Tuesday in Brooklyn. According to K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago, Donovan essentially challenged Williams to do it again, and he responded with an even better performance on Wednesday vs. Charlotte, scoring a season-high 16 points on 7-of-9 shooting and posting a positive net rating (+19) for the first time this season.
  • Following Wednesday’s game, Donovan praised Williams for starting to produce more consistently and urged fans to be patient with the forward’s ongoing development. “I get everyone wants to see this progression. But in fairness to him, he hasn’t had a normal two-year NBA schedule like a lot of guys have had. It’s taken him some time,” Donovan said, according to Johnson. “And every player develops and evolves at a different rate.”
  • Andre Drummond (shoulder) and Coby White (quad) have both missed multiple games due to their respective injuries, but the Bulls don’t view either as a long-term concern, Cowley writes for The Sun-Times. According to Donovan, MRIs on both players came back clean.

Bulls Notes: Lineup, Dosunmu, Vucevic, Drummond

Following another slow start, the Bulls were defeated by Philadelphia on Saturday. Coach Billy Donovan will consider juggling his lineup after his team fell behind by 19 points in the first half, Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic writes.

“I think I have to look at that,” Donovan said. “I don’t think there’s any question. Obviously, it’s a small sample size with seven games. But we do have veterans in that lineup. I don’t want to throw them (under the bus). All of us, myself as a coach. We’ve got to figure something out to get off to a better start. We have to look at all those things.”

Power forward Patrick Williams appears to be the most vulnerable in terms of losing his starting job.

We have more on the Bulls:

  • Guard Ayo Dosunmu cleared concussion protocol, but he’s still out of action. He’s dealing with a “thoracic contusion,” according to Donovan. Dosunmu has discomfort in his neck and upper back and is struggling with his mobility, Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago tweets.
  • Center Nikola Vucevic has taken the second-most field goal attempts behind only DeMar DeRozan. An assertive Vucevic is essential to the team’s success, according to K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. “I know how good I am. I know what I bring to the table,” Vucevic said. “I’m a two-time All-Star, so I didn’t get to where I am by chance.”
  • Vucevic played a season-high 36 minutes against the Sixers, in part because backup Andre Drummond was sidelined by a left shoulder sprain.

Central Notes: Pistons, Haliburton, Dosunmu, Lopez

Marvin Bagley III‘s knee injury is the latest mishap for a Pistons team that will start the season with a diminished frontcourt, writes Mike Curtis of The Detroit News.

Nerlens Noel, who was acquired from the Knicks in an offseason trade, is reconditioning after plantar fasciitis and hasn’t played during the preseason. Rookie center Jalen Duren hurt his shoulder last week, but was able to return Tuesday. Newly acquired Bojan Bogdanovic sat out Tuesday’s game with a strained calf, and Alec Burks, Kevin Knox and Hamidou Diallo are all dealing with injuries as well.

“It’s part of the NBA,” coach Dwane Casey said. “That’s one reason (general manager Troy Weaver) has done a good job of bringing multiple guys in. Unfortunately, the multiple guys are (sitting out, injured) behind the bench. I think it’s a freak thing. I do know that some of the guys that were behind the bench — Kevin, (Diallo) — if it was a regular season game, they’d be able to go. That’s refreshing to know that.”

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • The Pacers seem headed for a rebuilding year, but that’s not how the players are approaching the new season, according to Michael Marot of The Associated Press. Trade deadline deals for Tyrese Haliburton and Jalen Smith have added some youthful enthusiasm to the team. “I think we’ve just got a lot of guys who love basketball, who love to compete and that’s a great place to start,” Haliburton said. “There are so many young guys and they have a lot to prove not only to the media or the naysayers but to themselves.”
  • Ayo Dosunmu will take over as the Bulls‘ starting point guard while Lonzo Ball is sidelined, per Annie Costabile of The Chicago Sun-Times. Coach Billy Donovan confirmed that Dosunmu won the role with his performance since camp opened. “Ayo right now is going to be the guy back there for us,” Donovan said. “He’s done a really good job this training camp and preseason.”
  • The Bucks are counting on better health from Brook Lopez to improve their defense, notes Jamal Collier of ESPN. The veteran center was limited to 13 games last season because of back issues, but he came to camp noticeably leaner and motivated to prove he deserves a contract extension. “He’s in the best physical condition I’ve seen,” coach Mike Budenholzer said. “He seems hungry. … I feel like he’s moving well at both ends of the court. His aggressiveness is in a good place.”

Bulls Notes: Dosunmu, White, Jones

Second-year Bulls point guard Ayo Dosunmu has a chance to be the team’s starter at the position, at least until the return of a surgically repaired Lonzo Ball later in the season, writes K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago.

Though Alex Caruso, the stronger defensive player, will most likely take over ball-handling duties to close out games, Caruso’s aggressive approach on defense (he was whistled for five fouls in a preseason game Tuesday) may compel head coach Billy Donovan to ensure he remains available to close out games — starting Dosunmu at the point would allow Caruso to avoid getting into early foul trouble.

Caruso has taken Dosunmu under his wing, imparting sage advice on the younger player.

“He’s a helluva player so there’s not too much you have to tell him about his game to get him going,” Caruso said. “Just make sure he stays motivated and ready.”

There’s more out of the Windy City:

  • An MRI on the knee of Bulls reserve guard Coby White did not indicate any long-term damage, and he is set to suit up for Chicago’s next preseason contest Friday, according to Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. The Bulls will face off against the Denver Nuggets for their second game of the 2022 preseason.
  • Backup Bulls forward Derrick Jones Jr. expressed his enthusiasm about having returned to Chicago as a free agent this summer, per K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago“Once me and Coach (Donovan) had a conversation on the phone, it was a no-brainer,” Jones said. “I felt like we left a lot on the table last year and I wanted to come back and see if we could have another run at it… (Donovan) told me just to be me, be physical in the paint, get downhill as much as I can, take the shots that I get and just be aggressive.” Johnson notes that Chicago opted to bring Jones back after ‘tweener forward Danilo Gallinari agreed to a deal with the Celtics and the Bulls were unable to add oft-injured veteran forward T.J. Warren, who joined the Nets on a veteran’s minimum contract.

Bulls Notes: DeRozan, K. Antetokounmpo, Dosunmu, Offense

Bulls star DeMar DeRozan isn’t worried about his play declining as he enters his 14th season, writes Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. DeRozan turned 33 years old in August.

As long as you take care of yourself, as long as you work, technology is completely different,” DeRozan said. “It’s not like I’m Kevin Willis [who retired at 44] out here or anything like that. Shout-out to Kevin Willis.

I’m just saying, there are so many ways to take care of yourself — physically, mentally, nutrition, the technology that you have for recovery. There are so many ways that you can be effective longer periods of time.”

It makes sense that DeRozan would dismiss his age potentially being an issue considering he’s coming off arguably the best season of his accomplished career. In 76 games (36.1 MPG) in 2021/22, the five-time All-Star averaged a career-high 27.9 PPG on .504/.350/.877 shooting along with 5.2 RPG and 4.9 APG.

DeRozan says the stacked Eastern Conference is fueling him to reach greater heights in ’22/23.

I love the competitive island that the East is on,” DeRozan said, per Cowley. “You have to compete. For me, people get so caught up in the rankings, but you put me in a room with the best, and it brings out the best in me. That’s the approach that we have to take this whole season. This is the toughest the East has been since I’ve been in the league.”

Here’s more from Chicago:

  • Kostas Antetokounmpo, who is signed to an Exhibit 10 deal, recently had an interview with K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago about training camp, EuroBasket, his brother Giannis Antetokounmpo, and more. Kostas says he doesn’t feel pressure to try and have his contract converted to a two-way deal. “I just stay the course, try to get better, try to help the team as much as I can,” he said. “Everything is meant to be. If you get it, you get it. If you don’t, move on to the next opportunity. The goal is just to get better. When I’m said and done, I’m going to say I became the best player I could.”
  • Veteran guard Goran Dragić says Ayo Dosunmu has impressed him during training camp, as Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago relays. “I really like Ayo. He’s a great kid,” Dragić said after Monday’s practice when asked which of his new teammates has stood out the most. “He really listens and he’s really asking questions. For me, it’s just to guide him on the right path. He has such a great talent and he’s a positive kid. He really surprised me.” Dosunmu earned a second-team All-Rookie nod last season and will look to build on that entering year two.
  • The Bulls are looking to add elements of randomness into their offense this season after it became predictable at times in ’21/22, Schaefer notes in another article. “Free-flowing. Quick reads. For isolation, one on one players, we’re going to get a couple of those shots up. That’s part of our game. But quick reads. Fast decisions,” Zach LaVine said as part of a larger quote when asked to describe the Bulls’ offense. “The ball should be popping side to side. Being able to use different players in different spots. We’re not just going to be stuck on the sideline doing a pick and roll or rolling it into the post.”
  • After the Bulls went 46-36 and finished sixth in the East last season, John Hollinger of The Athletic predicts the team will take a step back in ’22/23 and finish with a 40-42 record and the ninth seed. Hollinger writes that Lonzo Ball‘s knee injury will hurt the team’s playoff chances, and he thinks Patrick Williams is arguably the team’s most important player and might be the key to unlocking more wins if he improves.

Central Notes: LeVert, Crowder, Turner, Dosunmu

Cavaliers point guard Darius Garland says fellow guard Caris LeVert was never fully healthy after Cleveland acquired him in a deal with Indiana last season, but he’s turning some heads in training camp, as Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com relays (via Twitter).

Caris is on a tear right now. He’s scoring the ball really well, he’s playing both sides of the ball, he’s defending really hard. We just have that attack mentality right now. He’s looking really good,” Garland said.

LeVert has plenty of financial incentive to have a big season in 2022/23. The 28-year-old is extension-eligible as he enters the final season of his $18.8MM contract. He averaged 13.6 PPG, 3.4 RPG and 3.9 APG on .435/.313/.745 shooting in 19 games (10 starts, 29.8 MPG) with the Cavs in ’21/22.

Here’s more from the Central:

  • In an article about Cleveland’s roster battle to determine the starting small forward, Joe Vardon of The Athletic suggests the Cavs might have interest in Suns forward Jae Crowder, who is sitting out training camp as Phoenix looks to find a deal for the veteran. Crowder’s first stint in Cleveland (back in ’17/18) did not go well, but the circumstances were rough — his mother had just passed away and his former team (Boston) had just lost to the Cavs in the Eastern Conference finals the prior season.
  • Myles Turner‘s days with the Pacers are numbered and they would be wise to move him sooner rather than later, argues Bob Kravitz of The Athletic. Turner has been a consummate professional during his time in Indiana and he deserves credit for the way he’s handled trade rumors over the years, but he’s on an expiring contract, the team is rebuilding, and having him on the roster would prevent younger players from receiving more playing time, Kravitz writes.
  • Fatigue played a factor in slowing down Bulls guard Ayo Dosunmu in the second half of last season, so he was focused on improving his stamina entering year two, according to K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. “I want to be able to go up and down four or five times without getting tired. (Wednesday), I think I did a good job with that. I was picking up fullcourt and I really didn’t get tired,” Dosunmu said, referencing practice scrimmages. “With us playing faster and getting out in transition and playing a more open, free game, I would say me not getting tired would be a huge plus for me and the team because I can use my speed, make plays, get downhill and do what I do.”

Bulls Notes: Point Guard, Dragic, LaVine, Front Office

With Lonzo Ball undergoing another procedure on his knee and preparing to be sidelined for the start of the 2022/23 season, the Bulls will have to come up with a plan for how to replace his production at point guard, according to Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic, who examines the top candidates to take Ball’s spot in the starting lineup.

As Mayberry outlines, Alex Caruso probably makes the most sense as Ball’s short-term replacement, given his experience, leadership, and defensive abilities. While Caruso isn’t a big-time offensive player, that wouldn’t be a problem if he’s playing alongside Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan, and Nikola Vucevic.

Still, like Ball, Caruso has an injury history and shouldn’t be leaned on too heavily, since having both players on the shelf would seriously limit the effectiveness of Chicago’s backcourt, Mayberry writes. Ayo Dosunmu, Goran Dragic, and Coby White are the other candidates to take Ball’s place in the starting five.

Here’s more on the Bulls:

  • In another story for The Athletic, Mayberry poses 10 questions that will shape the Bulls’ season, including whether LaVine can realistically take his game to another level after signing a five-year, maximum-salary contract.
  • While Dragic and Andre Drummond were solid veteran signings, it remains to be seen whether they’ll help specifically address the Bulls’ shooting and rim protection, two needs management publicly acknowledged entering the offseason, writes K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago.
  • The honeymoon period is just about over for the Bulls’ front office led by Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley as they enter their third season in Chicago, says Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. According to Cowley, Karnisovas has proven he’s an “organizational-changer,” but the Bulls will have to continue moving toward title contention rather than peaking as a middle-of-the-pack playoff team.
  • The Bulls have a new jersey sponsor, according to Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago, who writes that a Motorola Mobility patch will replace the Zenni Optical logo on the team’s jerseys starting this season.

Bulls Notes: Ball, Williams, Caruso, Dosunmu

The Bulls are playing the long game with Lonzo Ball and his health, according to K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago.

A report surfaced on Friday that Ball is expected to miss training camp and won’t be ready to go for the season opener.

However, Ball’s situation may not be as ominous as that sounds, Johnson writes. The team has worked in concert with Ball’s specialists this offseason and remain confident his left knee will continue to improve. The knee itself is reportedly structurally sound but the bone bruise he suffered, which occurred before his meniscus tear in January, is what continues to gives Ball pain.

With Goran Dragić, Coby White, Alex Caruso, Ayo Dosunmu and rookie Dalen Terry on the roster, Chicago has enough depth to take a cautious approach with Ball.

We have more on the Bulls:

  • The team is banking on a big jump from Patrick Williams, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times writes. Williams must pump up his scoring and rebounding numbers while hounding the opposing team’s best forward on the defensive end. The No. 4 pick in the 2020 draft, who missed most of last season due to a wrist injury, has been busy this offseason playing in Pro-Ams and some pick-up games against NBA stars.
  • Injuries took a toll on the team last season, Caruso admits in an interview with Ethan Fuller of Basketball News“Obviously, we have a little bit of bad luck with injuries last year. That doesn’t help,” Caruso said. “I think in the beginning of the year, we were first in the East, we had a great defensive rating [and the] offense was doing everything they needed to do as far as moving the ball, creating open shots. And then, through a little bit of adversity in the year, we dropped a little bit of discipline in certain areas of the game.
  • In the same piece, Caruso praises Dosunmu for the way he held his own defensively in his rookie campaign. “Ayo was, basically all last year, just playing off the feel,” Caruso said. “Your first year in the league, you don’t understand concepts really. You don’t understand coverages. You’re seeing guys play, and you’re playing against guys for the first time. You’re seeing their best moves for the first time; they’re probably going to beat you most of the time. So for him to be able to compete the way he did last year on defense is a great sign for a guy in his first year.”

Barnes, Cunningham, Mobley Head All-Rookie Team

Scottie Barnes, Cade Cunningham, Evan Mobley, Franz Wagner and Jalen Green comprised this year’s All-Rookie First Team, the NBA announced in a press release.

Barnes, Cunningham and Mobley were all unanimous selections, receiving the maximum total of 200 points each. Wagner received 183 points, followed by Green with 158. Strangely, one media member left Wagner off their ballot completely, as he received 99 of 100 possible votes.

Raptors wing Barnes, who narrowly edged Cavaliers big man Mobley for the Rookie of the Year award, ranked third in points (15.3) and rebounds (7.5) among all rookies, and fifth in assists (3.5). Mobley was fifth in points (15.0) and led all first-year players in rebounds (8.3) and blocks (1.67) per game.

Pistons guard Cunningham, the No. 1 pick in the 2021 draft, was first among rookies in points (17.4), second in assists (5.6) and fifth in rebounds (5.5). Magic forward Wagner also had a great year, averaging 15.4 points (fourth among rookies), 4.5 rebounds and 2.9 assists in 79 games. Rockets guard Green finished the season strong, scoring 20+ points in 17 of his last 25 games on his way to averaging 17.3 points, second among first-year players.

Pelicans defensive ace Herbert Jones (123 votes) and Thunder floor general Josh Giddey (122 votes) headline the Second Team. Jones averaged 9.5 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.7 steals (first among rookies) and should at least receive votes for an All-Defensive nod, even if he doesn’t end up making one of the two teams.

In addition to averaging 12.5 points, Giddey was second among rookies in rebounds (7.8) and first in assists (6.4), but he only appeared in 54 of 82 games, having missed the final 23 contests with a hip injury, which is likely why he didn’t receive more First Team votes.

Here are both All-Rookie teams in full, with their voting point totals noted in parentheses. Players received two points for a First Team vote and one point for a Second Team vote.

2021/22 All-Rookie First Team:

2021/22 All-Rookie Second Team:

Ten other rookies received votes — you can view the full voting results right here. Among the group that missed the cut, Warriors forward Jonathan Kuminga (47) was just behind Duarte, with Kings guard Davion Mitchell (28) the only other player receiving a significant number of votes.