Bulls' Ayo Dosunmu unlocking potential with 3-point shot

Bulls' Ayo Dosunmu unlocking potential with 3-point shot originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

Presented by Nationwide Insurance Agent Jeff Vukovich

The statistics between Ayo Dosunmu’s rookie and second seasons are eerily similar except for one glaring discrepancy---3-point shooting.

Dosunmu’s plunge from 37.6 percent on 2.4 attempts during his rookie season, when he unexpectedly and admirably filled in for the injured Lonzo Ball as starting point guard, to 31.2 percent on the same average attempts last season also created a gap in his impact. Though Dosunmu’s counting statistics looked the same, his impact on the eye test didn’t.

Both Dosunmu and Chicago Bulls coach Billy Donovan have talked about Dosunmu’s second season, in which he again started more than projected, as part of his learning curve.

With Dosunmu tailing off from 3-point range, opposing defenders dropped under screens more often than not, negating Dosunmu’s ability to get downhill to create advantages for himself or teammates. Though Dosunmu’s speed and push-the-pace mentality still afforded him transition opportunities last season, it’s harder to get downhill against a set defense, particularly when defenses aren’t fully respecting the 3-point shot.

That’s no longer the case, and Dosunmu’s impressive showing on Sunday in New Orleans is the latest example. After blasting his way to two transition layups in the first 3 minutes, 18 seconds of the victory over the Pelicans, Dosunmu later sank two 3-pointers as part of his 14 first-quarter points.

By the time Dosunmu splashed his third 3-pointer through with 3:31 to play, doubling the Bulls’ lead from three to six points, the third-year guard had scored 21 points. It’s his sixth 20-point game of a season in which he’s shooting 41.7 percent from 3-point range on career-high volume of 3.4 attempts per game.

No longer can defenses go under screens on Dosunmu, who is turning into a two-way threat on a value contract. When defenders do out of respect for his ability to get downhill, Dosunmu is making them pay.

Dosunmu had five 20-point games over his first two seasons; he has five such games since Jan. 13 alone. Plus, he has scored in double figures in 16 of his last 17 games, including his career-high 29 points in the Feb. 12 road victory over Atlanta. That’s also the game in which he sank a career-high five 3-pointers for the second straight game.

Dosunmu, who signed a three-year, $21 million deal last offseason, has shot 49 percent from 3-point range since Jan. 1. His 60.8 percent true shooting percentage is the highest of his young career.

“I think he has a much better feel of how he’s being guarded and what are his things he can go to with the way he’s being guarded,” Donovan said. “A lot of times teams are trying to keep him out of the lane so they run under on a lot of screens or back off him. And he’s got confidence in shooting.”

That confidence is back thanks to a workmanlike offseason in which Dosunmu honed in on his balance and follow-through in sessions with either his brother and father or Peter Patton, the Bulls director of player development. Donovan also has challenged Dosunmu in film sessions to be more shot-ready.

Dosunmu prefers direct communication and has no issue with being coached hard. It’s all paying off with the most impactful season of his young career.

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