Another Lonzo Ball Knee Surgery Gives Ayo Dosunmu a Greater Chance of Making a Leap

The Chicago Bulls were elated when their hometown product Ayo Dosunmu fell to number 38 in the 2021 NBA Draft, but fan expectations weren’t quite as high for the former Illinois star heading into his rookie season. Long-term injuries to Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso gave Dosunmu an important role and handled with confidence. With Ball set to miss more time to start the 2022-23 season, a silver lining is that Dosunmu is back in position to take advantage.

the bulls announced Wednesday that Ball will go under the knife next week in an attempt to fix the nagging knee problem that has plagued him since last season when he underwent surgery for a torn meniscus in January. The upcoming procedure will be an arthroscopic debridement and will keep Ball out for at least the next four to six weeks until re-evaluation. Of course, that doesn’t mean Ball will be ready to play after that time frame, so who knows when he’ll be back on the field.

Chicago really missed Ball’s presence last season because he brings so much to the table from both sides of the floor. There really isn’t anyone else on the roster who can do everything he does, which makes them a distinctly worse team without him. He’s their glue man.

However, Dosunmu is part of a deep backcourt from Bulls who will do his best to mitigate Ball’s lingering absence. Billy Donovan will have to make a decision when it comes to replacing Ball in the starting lineup. Dosunmu started 40 of the 77 games he played last season and built a good rapport with Nikola Vucevic in the starting line-up. Caruso isn’t much of a point guard, but is one of the Bulls’ best players, so there’s a clear case for him. Goran Dragic could also get the nod if Donovan wants to go for a veteran option with much more experience. Coby White also started his career as a point guard, but that experiment was a failure and he is better as a bench microwave scorer.

Whether Dosunmu gets the call-up to start as a point guard or not, he gets enough minutes anyway and should take precedence over an aging player like Dragic. The 22-year-old is bringing more versatility and two-way potential to the floor, and the Bulls must do everything they can to help develop his game.

As a rookie, Dosunmu averaged 8.8 points, 3.3 assists, 2.4 rebounds, 0.8 steals and 1.4 turnovers in 27.4 minutes per game, while totaling 52.0% and 37.6% shot from a 3-point range. An important next step would be to increase his recording volume. Understandably, as a rookie, he was more in the back seat, but he was a killer in Illinois and shouldn’t be afraid to look for his shot more often. That’s especially true when open outside the arc, as the Bulls can’t afford record scratches if there are open cans. The lack of 3-point shooting on the roster, especially with Ball out, begs Dosunmu to become a more prolific 3-point option. If he misses 3-point shots, he should attack the rim aggressively rather than be hesitant, as he was an effective scorer on drives last season.

Defensively, Dosunmu showed a lot of promise as a ferocious perimeter defender who can disrupt the attack point (just ask Trae Young). He still has a lot to learn when it comes to team defense, but he’s got that dog on the defensive and can help make up for Ball’s absence in that area.

The young guard has put in a lot of work this season, which should help him last through a long NBA season. He was clearly worn out and lost some of his effectiveness towards the end of his rookie campaign, so hopefully that won’t be too much of a problem in his NBA career.

This season will be even more striking for Dosunmu as he will be a free agent next season. He only signed a two-year contract with the Bulls after finishing 38th and will make just over $1.5 million in 2022-23. A big season means a nice payday for the young guard, which Chicago should be willing to pay.

So while this Lonzo Ball news is really a bummer, the hope is that it will help make a leap forward for Ayo Dosunmu. The Bulls could definitely use it as they try to keep up in the stacked Eastern Conference.