If you haven’t been paying attention to the Chicago Bulls lately, you’d be shocked to find them in a play-in spot.
With Zach LaVine on the court this season, the Bulls started off 5-14 and were one of the worst teams in the NBA.
Since LaVine’s injury, the Bulls are 9-4 and are sitting in the 10-seed currently. If the season ended today, they’d be competing for a playoff spot.
In the 16 games sharing the court with LaVine, former Illinois guard Ayo Dosunmu averaged just over 15 minutes and 5 points per game.
In his last 13 games since, Dosunmu has averaged over 29 minutes and 10 points per game. He has essentially doubled his time on the court and points scored in the All-Star’s absence.
During this stretch, Dosunmu scored a season-high 24 points on 10-of-12 shooting against last year’s Eastern Conference champions, the Miami Heat, on Dec. 14.
Before the season began, Dosunmu re-signed with the Bulls on a three-year, $21 million deal. After a promising first season that saw All-Rookie team honors, the 23-year-old solidified himself as a rotational player in his second year with Chicago.
In a year that started with Dosunmu seeing a decreased role, LaVine’s absence has allowed the third-year guard to have the opportunity to take that next step up at the pro level.
And with LaVine likely having played his last game for the Bulls, this will be a golden opportunity for Dosunmu to carve out his third season as his best so far in his young NBA career.
While you hate to see anyone get injured, it often opens up an opportunity for the next man up. Without this injury, Dosunmu may have finished this season with his worst stats to date.
The third-year guard has been as solid as they come so far for the Bulls, playing 187 of a possible 196 games in his career with Chicago. His availability has allowed him to become a key and constant rotational player in the nightly lineup.
With the Bulls currently being one of the hottest teams in the NBA, expect Dosunmu to continue to see more playing time as this season continues on down the stretch.
It’s been great to see an Illini contribute to one of the best turnarounds in sports this year.