Dosunmu willing to embrace Donovan's tough love
Listening to Bulls rookie Ayo Dosunmu, he wants to be coached. And Billy Donovan is happy to oblige.
Dosunmu saw significant minutes and scored 11 points in the Bulls' 111-107 victory at Brooklyn on Saturday. His opportunities should be plentiful with both Coby White and Javonte Green in health and safety protocols, while Alex Caruso is nursing a sore hamstring.
"One thing I love about coach Donovan, he's shows so much tough love to me after every game," Dosunmu said after beating Brooklyn. "Whether I play a lot of don't play a lot, he always calls me over and gives me words of encouragement.
"Sometimes it may be good, sometimes it might be bad. I just take it, take the constructive criticism and try to help myself become a better player because I know he obviously sees something in me if he's coaching me hard."
The former Illini star has recorded four double-digit scoring games this season and two of them came against the Nets. His season-high of 15 points happened on Nov. 8 in a home win over Brooklyn.
Dosunmu was in the middle of the action in Saturday's game. During a tight fourth quarter, he had 5 points, 3 rebounds and blocked a lay in attempt by Brooklyn's Cam Thomas.
"What I tell myself before the game is 'brick by brick,'" he said. "Set a foundation, just keep building, try to get better each game, on and off the court. The mental part of the game, the spacing, everything. You won't learn it just by watching it, watching film. You actually have to be in those fights.
"I always get excited whenever I'm in those moments right now, like you've got James Harden, Kevin Durant; Durant arguably top 10 player of all time. I see DeMar (DeRozan) come down and hit a fadeaway, then I see Kevin come down and hit a fadeaway. Seeing those heavyweights go at each other and me being a basketball junkie, me watching basketball my whole life, that was cool."
Dosunmu has played in 23 of the Bulls' 24 games. His playing time dropped for a bit when White returned from shoulder surgery, but the 6-4 shooting guard figures to play an important role during the next few weeks. One thing Donovan mentioned was Dosunmu learning to take the right kind of shots while he's on the floor.
"I think he's playing offensively more under control," Donovan said. " I think his decision-making as we've gone forward has gotten better. There's times where he's a very aggressive driver to the basket but he also has to recognize who's at the basket. The other night we're playing against the Knicks and Mitchell Robinson's waiting there.
"That's really a hard guy to finish over. I thought he made really good decisions of when he could get it to the backboard to go finish, when he needed to stop and get it under control and pull up an I think he took the right kind of shots."
This was quite a week for the Bulls, who swept the Knicks and Nets in New York. They moved within a half-game of Brooklyn for first place in the East, and clinched the season series against the Nets.
Playing on a big stage is obviously a great learning experience for an NBA rookie. Dosunmu claimed to have watched the championship-era Bulls-Knicks clashes, which must have happened on video, since he was born in 2000.
"New York has been good to me so far," Dosunmu said. "Of course it's fun. Madison Square Garden, that's one of the most historic basketball arenas there is. To be able to play there and be able to get a win there in that environment, that's always great. That's like something a basketball player puts on their bucket list.
"Then to come (to Brooklyn) two days later and play against a contending team, with great players, great coaching staff and find another win, that just gives a picture of how we can play."