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Bulls' Ayo Dosunmu gets bigger role with Lonzo Ball out

CHICAGO -- With Lonzo Ball sidelined to begin the season, the Chicago Bulls are looking to second-year point guard Ayo Dosunmu to provide leadership while he's in the starting lineup.

"He has no problem leading," coach Billy Donovan said Thursday. "If he thinks he's got something to say to somebody that can help the team or help that individual, he does it and he does it in the right way. He's very, very respectful of his teammates. He communicates well with his teammates. But there's certain things he'll say from a leadership standpoint that the group needs to do better or an individual player needs to do better, and he has no problem saying anything.

"For Ayo, he's never backed away from that responsibility and I think he'll only get better at that."

Dosunmu, a second-round pick, emerged as one of the surprise contributors for the Bulls last season, starting 40 games as a rookie and playing in 77 games overall while averaging 8.8 points, 3.3 assists and 2.8 rebounds. He earned a spot in the team's rotation in part because of injuries to players in the Bulls' backcourt ahead of him, but also with his effort on defense and comfort contributing offensively.

"I feel very comfortable with him," Donovan said following Tuesday's game against the Milwaukee Bucks.

Dosunmu has started all four preseason games in the absence of Ball, who had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee at the end of September. Ball returned last week to Chicago to begin rehabbing with the team and is expected to remain around the team during his recovery, but it is unclear when Ball will be ready to play again.

"I just want to show that what I went through last year, I learned from it," Dosunmu said after Tuesday's game. "Good or bad, I want to always learn from it. That's how you get better. That's how you get better as a person, on the court and off the court. It's about learning from your mistakes and also learning from the positive things you did well."

The Bulls open the regular season next Wednesday at the Miami Heat.