The Whiteboard: Ayo Dosunmu and second-year breakouts to watch for

Mar 29, 2022; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Chicago Bulls guard Ayo Dosunmu (12) dribbles up the court during the game against the Washington Wizards at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 29, 2022; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Chicago Bulls guard Ayo Dosunmu (12) dribbles up the court during the game against the Washington Wizards at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports /

Ayo Dosunmu is one of a handful of second-year players who appears ready to build on a strong rookie season, heading for a big second year.

Last year’s NBA rookie class was a revelation, with a three-way race for Rookie of the Year that went right down to the wire and a deep crop of successful contributors who are just scratching the surface. Among that group, perhaps no one was a bigger surprise than Ayo Dosunmu of the Chicago Bulls.

Taken with the No. 38 pick, Dosunmu played the sixth-most minutes of any rookie and recorded as many assists as Scottie Barnes, more points than Josh Giddey, more steals than Davion Mitchell and shot a better percentage from beyond the arc than Bones Hyland, Corey Kispert or Chris Duarte.

At Bleacher Report, Jonathan Wasserman detailed some of the concerns about Dosunmu and what parts of his NCAA success might or might not translate to the NBA, and why he fell to the second round.

"“How well will he be able to separate? Dosunmu’s lack of explosiveness could make it difficult for him to blow by and finish. His touch on floaters was off, with his 23.8 percent mark on runners (42 attempts) ranking as one of the worst among draft prospects.He also attempted only 3.3 three-pointers per 40 minutes, although he knocked them down at a 39.0 percent clip. Between the lack of volume, inconsistent fluidity and weak elevation on his shot, his shooting is still a question mark.Illinois gave Dosunmu the freedom to dominate the ball. But off the ball, where he’ll spend more time in the NBA, he graded in the 33rd percentile as a spot-up player and 20th percentile as a cutter.”"

I say this not to pick on Wasserman — this was mostly the pre-draft consensus — but to highlight just how surprising Dosumu’s efficiency was a rookie. And he flew past expectations in almost every area.

Dosunmu shot 53.4 percent on drives, the best mark of any rookie with at least 300 drives last season. He also recorded an assist on 13.8 percent of his drives, second to only Davion Mitchell among rookies. He made 38.4 percent of his catch-and-shoot 3s and was the only rookie to post an effective field goal percentage of 50 or better on at least 100 pull-up attempts. Most of that was driven by a smooth pull-up mid-range jumper that allowed him to punish closeouts and attack in quick, side pick-and-rolls after the ball was swung to him.

He’s not yet the kind of player you throw the ball to and ask to create against a set defense but he’s already scoring efficiently at all three levels, and in multiple contexts, as a complementary threat.

Dosunmu likely won’t have any extra responsibility this year, a healthy DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine will continue to be primary creators. Lonzo Ball will be back at some point and the addition of Goran Dragic brings another capable ball-handler. But Dosunmu has already shown he can thrive in this role and he’s as important as any part of the Bulls supporting cast this season.

Jalen Suggs is ready to step up on offense. The No. 5 pick in last year’s draft struggled with injuries and was an absolute disaster as a shooter. He averaged 11.8 points per game but shot just 36.1 percent from the field and 21.4 percent from beyond the arc. However, this was almost all about his jumper — he made 61.1 percent of his shots at the rim but just 25.2 percent from beyond 10 feet. He struggled with both pull-up and catch-and-shoot attempts but he didn’t do himself any favors with the balance, nearly 1.5 pull-up jumpers for every catch-and-shoot.

With a healthy Markelle Fultz and the addition of Paolo Banchero, there should be far less pressure on Suggs to create offense for himself and others off the dribble. Sharing the initiation load with Banchero, Fultz, Cole Anthony and Franz Wagner should give Suggs more opportunities to work off the ball. His numbers were so terrible last year it’s hard to find too many statistical reasons for optimism but Suggs is a really smart cutter and his finishing should give him something to rely on as he builds a basis for offensive success.

Suggs was already a very strong defender for a rookie and his passing was an asset, even if he struggled with turnovers as a primary creator. His shooting was so bad last season that expectations have been dramatically depressed, but if he can bounce back to become a passable spot-up threat this season he could still be hugely important to the Magic as a connective piece on both ends.

Moses Moody is ready to step out of Jonathan Kuminga’s shadow. Kuminga got most of the attention last season, notching 12 starts and playing nearly twice as many minutes as Moody. But a lot of that was due to a crowded wing rotation where Kuminga’s ability to play in the frontcourt defensively was more important than Moody’s polish, creation and shooting touch.

With changes to the Warriors’ rotation we may see a lot more of Moody this season and he looks more than ready to step up. He made 36.l5 percent of his catch-and-shoot 3s last season but there’s every reason to think that number will go up and he was dynamic as a self-creator in limited opportunities.

Moody shot 58.1 percent on drives and posted an effective field goal percentage of 50.0 on pull-up jumpers. His size and strength made him useful as an offensive rebounder on the wing and he has plenty of defensive potential as well. Moody played primarily as a 2 or a 3 last year but with Otto Porter Jr. and Nemanja Bjelica gone, there may even be a chance for him to take some minutes as a small ball 4 against some teams.

— Ian Levy

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  • BPM dropped from 3.8 to 0.2
  • PPG dropped by four points and his shooting fell from 41.1% to 30.8%
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— Josh Wilson

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