Bulls Insider

Dosunmu proves poise again with historic double-double

/ by K.C. Johnson
Presented By Nationwide Insurance Agent Jeff Vukovich
Bulls Insider

Ayo Dosunmu posted his first career double-double in just his third NBA start Saturday night. And afterward, his mind drifted to youth basketball.

But not for the reasons you might think.

Not for the nostalgic trip down memory lane to reflect on how far his journey has come. No, Dosunmu's mind drifted there because that's where the same messages about work ethic that underlies his poise under pressure now that he's in the NBA resonated long ago.

"It's a what have you done for me lately league and there are so many games that you can't get too high or too low," Dosunmu said via Zoom from Boston following the Chicago Bulls' 114-112 loss to the Celtics. "That was my challenge. (Friday) night, I had a tough night, didn't play to my standards. But I knew we had another chance today to get better. So I wanted to establish that mentality.

"And then coach (Billy) Donovan said we weren't playing hard enough. All the coaches that I played for, play hard since I was four years old was one of the main things you have to do to compete. So I wanted to play as hard as I can. That's the type of player I am. Whenever my coach asks for something, I know that he means it genuinely. I just do whatever I can to follow through on what his request is. I just want to play as hard as I can."

 

Dosunmu did that, stuffing the box score with 21 points and 10 assists, both season- and career-highs. He shot 9-for-10, including 3-for-3 from 3-point range, and added four rebounds for good measure.

It's the first time in NBA history a rookie has tallied 20 points and 10 assists in a game while shooting 90 percent:

Starting alongside Coby White with both Lonzo Ball and Zach LaVine sidelined by knee injuries, he also took on the challenge of guarding Celtics star Jayson Tatum. And while Tatum posted 23 points, he shot just 8-for-24. Multiple times, Dosunmu played strong defense on him, even in isolation. He contested shots consistently, fought over screens frequently.

"You have to grow up fast," Dosunmu, 21, said. "From the beginning of the year, we've been having guys out with either nagging injuries or COVID. Our whole team hasn't been there. So I'm forced to be there. And a compliment I can get is Coach asking me to guard their best player. I try to compete, play how I know I can play."

Add Tatum to a growing list of recent high-profile matchups that Dosunmu has embraced, including Trae Young and Luka Dončić. Expect minutes against Ja Morant on Monday in Memphis.

"He played great," Nikola Vučević said. "For a young guy like him to play with so much poise and not get rushed into making quick decisions, just playing smart ball, is impressive at that age. Especially only in his third start and played however many games we played so far. He played well at both ends. He's been doing that all year long. It's a huge addition for us."

Dosunmu has now played in 37 of the Bulls' 41 games. That's the equivalent of a college season. But the rookie, who is averaging 20.3 minutes, doesn't sound like someone ready to slow down.

"I think I'll continue getting better," Dosunmu said.

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