Some things never change.
Shortly after he selected Ayo Dosunmu with the 38th pick in Thursday’s NBA draft, Chicago Bulls executive vice president Artūras Karnišovas, after a one-year break, reprised a management standard that he couldn’t believe the All-American guard and University of Illinois product remained on the board.
In his first draft as the Bulls’ lead executive, Karnišovas selected Patrick Williams with the fourth overall pick. That selection surprised enough mock drafts that he couldn’t use the line.
But for Dosunmu, who said he knows he’s a first-round talent and who many mocks projected as such, Karnišovas’ line fits. So what stood out?
“Besides the fact that he’s local?” Karnišovas cracked of the Chicago native.
What the Bulls saved in travel money in this draft process challenged again by the pandemic for all teams, they spent in electric bills at the Advocate Center. Beyond interviewing Dosunmu at the NBA Draft Combine held in Chicago, the Bulls pored over film study.
That process led to this conclusion.
“He does a little bit of everything,” Karnišovas said. “He does a lot of scoring. He (averages) 5 assists and 6 rebounds, steals. He’s versatile, long, 6-10 wingspan, 6-5 (height). So he has size. He’s a combo guard. We rely on versatility and that’s what we’re looking forward to see.”
There it is. Versatility.
Any move made by Karnišovas and his staff should be viewed through the prism of the roster the Bulls are trying to build, filled with toughness, two-way players, positional size and versatility. About the only box Dosunmu doesn’t check is knockdown shooting, although he pulled his 3-point shooting to 39 percent at the shorter collegiate distance through his well-documented work ethic.
So much has been made of Karnišovas’ connection to a Nuggets franchise that watched a second-round pick become an NBA most valuable player in Nikola Jokic — and employ a rotation player and part-time starter in Monte Morris — that it almost has become cliché.
But the Bulls are on track to use two roster spots next season on second-round picks in Dosunmu and 2020 44th overall pick Marko Simonović.
These are second-round picks, though. And Karnišovas, in speaking solely about Dosunmu, was careful not to place too many expectations on him.
Still, Dosunmu’s arrival will do little to quell the leaguewide perception that guard Tomáš Satoranský is available for the right deal. So, too, is Thad Young, sources said, as it’s widely expected the Bulls will enter the Lonzo Ball restricted free agent sweepstakes.
The Bulls won’t give away either player. But it’s clear more roster turnover is coming.
“We're excited because we don't know what we're gonna look like after free agency hits,” Karnišovas said.
Dosunmu will be there, even if the Bulls couldn’t believe he was there at No. 38.