Bulls get bad news with Ball, but Dosunmu seems ready to thrive
The bad news for the Bulls is point guard Lonzo Ball will undergo arthroscopic surgery on his left knee and miss 6-8 weeks.
The good news? Well, all those declarations in June that Ayo Dosunmu was the steal of draft night, they've turned out to be true.
Ball will be missed, but Dosunmu has been beyond impressive while starting the last three games. He's averaged 18 points, 8 assists, 5.7 rebounds and 2 steals, while shooting an eye-opening 76.6% from the field. He's also knocked down 7 of 10 shots from 3-point range.
The South Side native led everyone on both sides with 9 fourth-quarter points in the Bulls' victory over Cleveland on Wednesday. After the game, teammate DeMar DeRozan paid tribute.
"The confidence he has in himself is amazing and you see it when you go out there and play," DeRozan said. "He's just always ready for the big moments."
There were times during Dosunmu's three years at Illinois when he was projected to be a lottery pick. For whatever reason, he was still on the board when the Bulls selected No. 38 in the second round. Now there's reason to believe the Bulls can continue to thrive despite Ball's absence.
"He's a tough kid in general," DeRozan said. "You can tell when tough times hit him, he learns from it and grows from it and that's just a product of the type of player he is.
"For him to be on a great team for one, the presence he brings, you wouldn't think he's a rookie. You've got to be special to carry yourself that type of way. It's not in an arrogant way because he's one of those guys that's so inquisitive and always asking questions and consistently trying to find ways of learning."
When Zach LaVine returns from his own knee injury, it might make sense for coach Billy Donovan to keep Dosunmu as the starting point guard, especially since he's been proficient on the defensive end. Coby White could return to an offensive-minded role off the bench, in theory.
Donovan said Wednesday LaVine has been responding well to treatment, but would not travel on the upcoming road trip to Milwaukee, Orlando and Oklahoma City, so he's likely out at least three more games. Javonte Green (adductor strain) is listed as out Friday.
The Bulls are facing the defending champion Bucks for the first time this season on Friday at Fiserv Forum. Obviously, Giannis Antetokounmpo is a challenging matchup, but this might be where the Bulls miss Ball the most, because with his size, he's good at sliding over for quick double-teams.
Ball's injury was originally listed as left knee soreness, then the designation on Wednesday's injury report shifted to left knee bone contusion. NBA insider Shams Charania reported Ball was diagnosed with a small meniscus tear. There was no mention of cartilage damage in the Bulls' release, but that's a relatively common injury among NBA players and something that generally doesn't get better on its own.
Ball had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee in July 2018 following his rookie season with the Lakers. He missed 30 games as a rookie and 35 in his second season. ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski wrote that Ball will be traveling to California in the next few days to have the procedure done.
Alex Caruso's return on Wednesday brought a nice spark as the Bulls broke a four-game losing streak against the Cavs and proved they can beat a good team while missing key personnel. Green and LaVine could return soon, but the Ball news ensured the Bulls will stay short-handed for a while.