The year is 2022. The Chicago Bulls are sitting in 1st place in the Eastern Conference with a 24-10 record after winning seven straight. The winning streak has caught the attention of the national media (finally), and the man who was deemed a horrible free-agent signing just hit back-to-back game-winners. No, this isn’t just a dream anymore. This is reality, and we should enjoy every second of it. The Bulls are officially back, baby!
DeMar ended 2021 and started the new year the exact same, as he absolutely crushed the hopes and dreams of Pacers and Wizards fans. For Bulls fans, these wins meant something more. We are watching a team click before our eyes in a way that many NBA teams never figure out. They all care for one another, and it is starting to feel like a family out there on the court.
Don’t worry, Lonzo Ball celebrated too.
(🎥 Zo | IG) pic.twitter.com/lsCFtUnxkK
— Bleacher Nation Bulls (@BN_Bulls) December 31, 2021
The chemistry is there for this team, and they have the roster to take them deep within the playoffs. But perhaps no player is having more of an impact than Ayo Dosunmu. The University of Illinois product is quietly becoming the steal of the draft, and it’s the little things that add up over time to help produce wins for this special Bulls team. For Ayo, the “little things” finally got noticed against the Pacers on New Year’s Eve.
No Ayo, No Win
In a game that was coming down to the wire, the Bulls were getting frustrated. Given that they were facing a fellow Eastern Conference opponent, let alone it being the Pacers, this game meant something. It was also a game that was needed to capitalize on the fact that the Bulls aren’t a team somebody should want to play. We’re different, and it’s a difference that the city of Chicago deserves.
Of course, we all saw that DeMar hit the one-legged dagger. But without Ayo, this win may have never come.
With 35 seconds left, Zach LaVine thought he got fouled and yelled at the ref. Ayo Dosunmu told Zach to get back on defense.
With 13 seconds left, the ball went out of bounds "off DeMar DeRozan." DeMar yelled at the ref and Ayo pulled him back so he wouldn't get another tech.
— Daniel Greenberg (@ChiSportUpdates) January 1, 2022
If this doesn’t get you fired up, then nothing will. This is a rookie we’re talking about, not a veteran who’s been there and done that. No, we’re talking about a 2nd round draft pick who’s currently averaging 6 points, 2 rebounds, and an assist a game. Sure, those stats don’t necessarily jump out to the average fan. But it’s the stats that don’t get any attention that help a team jump to the next level.
The growth and maturity are certainly there, and the trust in the young Bull is just as evident among his teammates and coaches. Without Ayo calming down two potential MVP candidates, who knows what happens in this game. Maybe Lavine and DeRozan both get Ts and we dramatically lose the game. Who knows, but it’s chilling to see a rookie come in and have such an impact on those around him.
Slowly But Surely Gaining Attention
Ayo had an upside that was evident if you watched any game in college, and that potential is leading him to get more and more minutes. For example, you’d think that veterans would get the final minutes of crunch time…right? Wrong. Ayo was seen playing in the final seconds for both of DeMar’s game-winners, and it’s clear why he’s gained the trust of Head Coach Billy Donovan over the past few months.
🗣 AYO DOSUNMU WAS THE STEAL OF THE DRAFT
— Bleacher Nation Bulls (@BN_Bulls) December 28, 2021
Ayo Dosunmu checking Bradley Beal pic.twitter.com/9VWY3YcqO4
— Hoop Informatics 🏀📊🎥 (@HoopInformatics) January 2, 2022
These highlights speak volumes for the type of player Dosunmu is: he doesn’t get scared of anybody, and he plays everyone with an effort that’s rare to find in the NBA, let alone rookies. But Ayo seems to just have that villain inside of him. He plays with the mindset that nobody is going to get past him and nobody is going to stop him.
Rebound thread 🧵 – Ayo Dosunmu pic.twitter.com/5WXH9lW8AQ
— Chaos Sports Network (@chaossportsnet) January 2, 2022
Yet again, Ayo goes up for the ball and drives to the rim like a mad man. His effort is nonstop and he plays with an energy that ignites the entire city. Bulls fans, we have something special in #12. Let’s keep winning.