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Ranking the top 5 moments from Ayo’s rookie year

The rook exceeded expectations.

NBA: Chicago Bulls at Indiana Pacers Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

I know this might sound crazy, but Basketball Season™️ is here...

Bret Bielema has the boys on the north side of Kirby rollin’, and Brad Underwood’s squad looks primed for another shot at a Big Ten conference title. The basketball team probably isn’t in the position it is though if it weren’t for one Ayo Dosunmu. The former All-American turned heads in his rookie season for his hometown Bulls, but what were the top moments from his first year? Let’s revisit.

5. The Alperen Sengun Poster

“Does anybody know how to post videos to Facebook? Oh my goodness! He just goon’d Sengun!” — Stacey King

A lot of guys talk about their, “Welcome to the NBA” play. Well, Ayo might’ve dished one of those out to his fellow rookie here. This play came in the first month of the season, and made some of the more casual fans say, “Wait a minute, who is this guy?”

If you remember early on in Ayo’s rookie year, he was laying a lot of things up on the glass and really had an issue with getting his shot blocked. After about a week or two of that happening, it seems like he decided that wasn’t going to happen anymore. Then, he just started dunking all over dudes.

4. Career-high 26 in final game

What better way to end your rookie season than with a career-high in points?

That’s exactly how Ayo closed out last year, dropping 26 & 6 en route to a 124-120 win over the Timberwolves back in April. The Bulls were resting most of their starters with a playoff bid already locked up, so this was a preview game of sorts with Ayo and Patrick Williams duking it out with Anthony Edwards.

Ayo held his own against the 2020 No. 1 overall pick, connecting on half his attempts from the field and from three, while also pulling down five boards. He gave the Bulls a 3-point lead with 90 seconds to go on a nice drive and finish to the rim. Then, he nailed a three to make it a two-possession game with just 30 seconds to go, sealing the win for Chicago.

3. No DeMar? No problem

Is 24 points, 8 assists and 5 rebounds on 10-of-14 shooting and 4 for 6 from deep, good? Yes, yes it is.

No DeRozan, no Ball, no Caruso, but Ayo stepped up when the Bulls needed him. The Thunder are a good, young team, arguably the best. And Ayo was probably the second best player on the floor that night, behind only Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. This was probably the most assertive we saw him play up to to this point in the season — his patented mid-range pull-up, a halfcourt heave at the end of the third to give Chicago a double-digit lead and good decision-making all night long. Probably one of his most complete games of the year.

2. Ayo puts Trae Young in a torture chamber

Holding one of the best players on the planet to 3-of-17 shooting and four turnovers is a good way to cement yourself as one of the best defensive players in the league.

Ayo had Trae Young’s number all night long in their matchup back on Feb. 24.

The Rook made countless plays all night, containing the two-time all-star to just 14 points.

Oh, and he also crossed Young into another dimension.

This might’ve been the most fun I had watching a Bulls game last year.

1. Game-sealing double poster

What. A. Dunk.

Imagine looking across the court and seeing one of the best players in the last decade, shrugging him off, and just jamming all over two dudes to ice a game. Vintage Ayo stuff right there.

You can actually see Ayo look over at Billy Donovan at the beginning of this clip, and Donovan essentially tells him to take it. Boy, did he ever.

Everyone in the damn arena thought DeMar DeRozan was getting that basketball. But alas, the Dosunmu dagger detonated on the rim.

This was by far my favorite moment from Ayo’s rookie year because it’s the Ayo so many of us Illini fans saw from his college days. Game on the line, last possession and he just goes out and ices it. I expect to see many, many more of these plays over the course of his career.

We’ll have a complete breakdown of his rookie season and expectations going into year two soon...