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Lonzo Ball on Ayo Dosunmu: 'He got that swag to him'

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

Billy Donovan told Ayo Dosunmu that the rookie would make first NBA start about an hour before tipoff Monday night.

“He’s unfazed,” Donovan said. “That’s the thing I love about him.”

Nobody should be surprised that Dosunmu stuffed the box score with 11 points, a season-high eight assists and six rebounds in a leg-wearing 42 minutes during the Chicago Bulls' victory over the Denver Nuggets.

Why? Just listen to him.

“My mindset is to stay ready, so you don’t have to get ready,” Dosunmu said.

Dosunmu is confident because he puts in work — every day. Lonzo Ball said he sees Dosunmu in the gym every time he’s there.

“He got that swag to him. He’s very confident when he’s out there,” Ball said. “We put 100 percent trust into him.”

That swag showed when Dosunmu delivered a no-look, alley-oop pass to Ball for a dunk that jazzed a raucous United Center crowd. But Dosunmu is actually more about substance.

It’s why he didn’t back down from an initial challenging defensive assignment on Jeff Green, nor let the game overwhelm him when the Nuggets’ power forward posted him up to some success. Dosunmu adjusted and got stronger as the game advanced.

That’s a mature trait to have for any player, much less a young one and much less one that somehow slipped to the second round of the NBA Draft. Dealing with in-game adversity is essential in this league.

 

At 21, Dosunmu not only already understands that but excels at it.

“I think he’s only going to get better because his skill set is going to get better,” Donovan said. “But his innate, competitive spirit which he plays with, the moment isn’t too big for him.”

Donovan then crafted a fantastic answer when asked about Dosunmu remaining unfazed despite the growing responsibilities on his plate.

“I really love coaching him because you can really, really talk to him in a way that he wants the truth. He wants to get better. He wants to grow. He wants to hear what he’s got to do to improve,” Donovan said. “And for me as a coach, when you see a young man with that much hunger and desire to want to be good, he wants to hear it all. I really, really respect that about him.

“For me, so much – and I said this way back when – it’s his makeup. It’s who he is as a competitor. There may be guys that shoot it better than him. There may be guys who are faster than him. There may be guys more athletic than him. But he’s got a big heart and he competes and he impacts winning. He, I think in a lot of ways, makes a lot of timely plays that impact winning.”

Dosunmu has this habit of asking reporters how they’re doing before he begins his postgame press conferences. That the rookie has attended two straight is a testament to the growing, important role that he’s carving out for himself.

The only time Dosunmu let his guard down is when he fielded a question about the significance of his first NBA start, which came with Alex Caruso sidelined by a sore hamstring and DeMar DeRozan landing in the health and safety protocols on top of Coby White and Javonte Green.

“It was actually just pretty cool,” Dosunmu said. “We went over the last scouting. The starters, seeing my name there, it was exciting. It brought back memories from my first games starting in college. It was just like a feeling. It’s hard to explain. It’s a feeling of joy and excitement. I just wanted to seize my opportunity.”

He did.

RELATED: 'From Chicago . . .': How Ayo Dosunmu reacted to 1st Bulls' start

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