Before making an unexpected return to the game, the Bulls' rookie Ayo Dosunmu checked out to a standing ovation for his outing against the Nets. He then checked back in for garbage time he had helped create, only to garnish what was already the best performance of his young NBA career.
Career night against the Nets
Dosunmu finished Monday's game with career-high 15 points and 7 rebounds in nearly 20 minutes of action. He posted a team-high +22 while helping orchestrate the Bulls' run-away act during the fourth quarter -- they outscored the Nets 42-17 to pull away for a 118-95 victory -- and the United Center awarded him for it.
"If he sneezes out there, the crowd will get excited," DeMar DeRozan said of the love Chicago has for Dosunmu. "You definitely gotta feed off it."
DeRozan led the Bulls with 28 points on 10-for-20 from the floor. Zach Lavine added 24 along with 5 rebounds and 5 assists, and Nikola Vucevic put up a double-double with 11 points and 13 rebounds despite having a cold shooting night. But the story of the game was Dosunmu and the love the whole arena showed for the hometown kid.
I definitely see it. I feel it too. I just try to embrace it.
Dosunmu's role moving forward
Dosunmu, who the Bulls selected 38th overall, has shined in an expanded role in Coby White's absence. But according to Billy Donovan, the second-year point guard, who underwent surgery on his left shoulder during the offseason, is close to making a comeback.
What will White's return do to Dosunmu's minutes? Based on his performance ten games into the season, it shouldn't do much since Dosunmu made a compelling case to stick in the rotation regardless of Coby's comeback.
"Whether Coach Donovan plays me 2 minutes or 15-20 minutes, I try to come in with energy and positivity and just have fun," Dosunmu said. "I think when you do something you love and you have fun, that's when your natural instincts come out. I try to impact the game any way I can."
This is a good problem for the Bulls, who improved to 7-3 and the No.3 seed in the East after yesterday's win. But even Donovan agrees that keeping Dosunmu around maximizes their chances of winning.
He just makes things happen. When he plays, the only thing he’s focused on is trying to win. That’s the kind of competitor he is. Whether he scores two points, no points, doesn’t take a shot, he’s going to try to impact winning.
Dosunmu's impact was felt on Monday night. That's why, no matter who's on the roster, the 21-year-old rookie has to remain in the rotation. Nine games into his NBA career, one thing is clear -- the Bulls got a good one.