Dosunmu showcases transition offense, on-ball defense at Las Vegas Summer League


Photo Courtesy of Michael Glasgow / Fighting Illini Athletics

Former Illini basketball player Ayo Dosunmu celebrates against Michigan State in Feb. 19 2020 in Champaign, Illinois. Ayo Dosunmu will be playing for the Chicago Bulls this 2021-2022 season.

By Brandon Simberg, Staff Writer

Ayo Dosunmu got his first taste of NBA (summer league) action last week in Las Vegas. I was in attendance for three of his first five games and took notes on his games. Here are my thoughts on Dosunmu’s first summer league:

Transition offense

One of Dosunmu’s biggest strengths in college translated to the summer league: his ability to score on the break. 22 of Dosunmu’s 59 shot attempts came in transition, leading to 31 of his 63 points through the five games. Dosunmu was second in the entire summer league in transition points. 

Half-court offense

While Dosunmu excelled in transition, it took him some time to adjust to his new role in the halfcourt. Dosunmu has been the lead ball-handler on whatever team he’s played for since his freshman year of high school. With the Bulls, they utilized Dosunmu off the ball in the first three games, letting Devon Dotson and Patrick Williams run the offense. Dosunmu needs to improve as a cutter and be more active when lead ball-handlers have the ball. In the three games Dotson and Williams played, Dosunmu averaged just six points on 7-24 (29%) shooting.

Another reason for the lackluster outings was Dosunmu’s struggles from deep. He went 1-12 from three in five games, having a tough time adjusting to the NBA three-point line, frequently missing short. Dosunmu was up to 38% from deep last season, but that was on a limited volume. It remains to be seen if this was a one-week aberration, or if Dosunmu will take time to adjust to the longer three-point line. 

In the two games without Dotson and Williams playing, Dosunmu resumed primary creator responsibilities and looked much more like his college self. He averaged 22.5 points on 51% shooting. Dosunmu operated more out of the pick-and-roll and was assertive getting to the rim or pulling up from mid-range. He’s clearly more comfortable playing on the ball right now, so the question becomes how both parties can find a mix when Dosunmu shares the court with ball-dominant players like Zach Lavine and DeMar DeRozan. 


Given the lower usage, it’s not a total surprise Dosunmu tallied just eight assists in five games. Two of his better passes came on the fast break. In the pick-and-roll, Dosunmu had to adjust playing next to a stretch center in Marko Simonovic. Dosunmu missed Simonovic on some pop opportunities that Kofi Cockburn would not take. He also has a tendency of picking up his dribble before getting into the paint off pick-and-rolls. At Illinois, this allowed time for Cockburn to get into the paint and seal off his defender. But at the next level, Dosunmu will need to pressure the paint more and look for his centers on the perimeter. 


This end of the court also featured some ups and downs. As an on-ball defender, Dosunmu was engaged and used his length to disrupt actions and pressure ball-handlers. He nabbed four steals in a game against the Spurs and was a key part of the Bulls second-half comeback. 

But Dosunmu needs to be more attentive off the ball. He got caught ball-watching and missed some rotations and boxouts. He has a unique physical profile that should allow him to be impactful on that end; he just needs to up his engagement.

In general, putting too much stock into five summer league games is frivolous. But it was a useful snapshot of how the Bulls view Dosunmu in their offense, areas he should excel in from the jump and areas of his game he needs to improve upon.



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