Peachtree Hoops continues its 2021 NBA Draft scouting report series with a dive on Ayo Dosunmu, a guard out of Illinois.
Age: 21 (Jan. 17, 2000)
Height: 6’ 5”
Wingspan: 6’ 10”
Weight: 200 lbs.
Guard prospects coming into the NBA for the last few years, particularly mid-rounders, have seemingly fallen into two archetypes (with obvious notable exceptions). There’s the run-and-gun playmaking shooter who usually can’t play a lick of defense, and then there’s the physical combo guard who can defend up a position but has issues with shooting consistency (Cole Anthony vs. RJ Hampton anyone?). Ayo Dosunmu, the 21-year-old Junior out of Illinois, definitely falls into the latter of those two categories, but this clunky generalization obviously doesn’t tell the full story.
Dosunmu is a talented two-way guard who has all the tools to be a lasting piece in the NBA. He’s a menace in transition, can finish at the rim, and is likely one of the two or three strongest guard defenders in the class. Current issues are questions surrounding his shooting upside, advanced playmaking beyond standard reads, and overall upside given his age. Ultimately, I see him going somewhere in the 23-26 range, but don’t be surprised if he falls. It seems chatter has cooled on Dosunmu since his breakout performance at Illinois this season.
Finishing at the Rim
Dosunmu has the athleticism, measurables, and craftiness to be a menace when attacking the rim. He has great leaping ability, and quickly knifes through defenses when being guarded by a slower defender. He can finish with both hands in traffic and can sense where defenders will jump to get around them using his body control. I believe this skill will project to the next level.
Dosunmu has elite speed and is particularly special to watch when he catches the ball off the glass and pushes it up the floor. This is where his playmaking ability really shines, both his handle and his passing. In the disarray of transition, he’s able to pick out teammates more quickly and his shiftiness allows him to get into soft spots on the break and get to the rim.
Dosunmu’s quickness also translates to his ballhandling where he features a devastating crossover and a few great hesitation skills. When he’s in the half-court, he frequently uses these moves to get into he lane and finish. He can make reads after he draws the second defender as well, so the handle really is the beginning of his isolation game, and the most important skill for him to demonstrate at the next level.
Dosunmu’s biggest and most glaring flaw is his inconsistency as a shooter. He’s demonstrated some fluidity when shooting off-the-dribble to his right hand, but the release is slow and his lower body is all over the place. He rarely showed that skill from 3-point range either, so I don’t see him consistently going to that against NBA defense. His catch & shoot game is not ready for the NBA, mainly because of how clunky his release is. His career FT% in college was 75.0% (but he improved each season), so it’s not a foregone conclusion that he won’t develop his jumper, but at 21 years old you have to wonder how much more his game can change.
While Dosunmu is a great ballhandler with killer quickness, he hasn’t quite shown the ability to fully see the floor and execute higher difficulty passes, which would be expected of a point guard in the NBA. He does often pick out the first read when his quickness and handle get him into space, but he can sometimes be late with that read and he frequently fails to see further options or doesn’t anticipate them. He also technically at times can make mistakes with passing, which can lead to ugly turnovers. These types of issues are the things that NBA coaches hate, and could impact his playing time if he doesn’t solve it.
Point-of-attack defense is incredibly important in today’s NBA and Dosunmu seems prepared to take on the challenge. He has shown real promise as a primary defender and because of his size and wingspan he can really dominate certain matchups defensively. He is very good at weaving around picks, and has the quickness to go over or under screens. He’s always engaged and plays with intensity. He’s maybe not as impressive as an off-ball defender, but still plenty good enough. His defense could be why he sees the floor in his rookie season, especially if he gets drafted by a team with a need for better defensive guards.
Those measurables fit the bill for a very useful defender, and in particular, a defender who could possibly defend up to the small forward position in the right matchup. That versatility will be enticing for many rosters, and if he really does reach is potential, could make him very valuable in the future. He does need to put on a little weight before he’ll be ready to regularly guard forwards in the NBA.
While not a bad off-ball defender, Dosunmu can find himself losing some focus when off the ball. For him to reach his full potential from a versatility standpoint, he needs to be just as locked-in off the ball as he is on it. But I don’t foresee this being a big issue in his NBA career.
Conclusion & Hawks Fit
Overall, Dosunmu is a solid prospect who will probably end up as a rotational piece or as the fifth starter. He isn’t going to be a superstar, and at age 21 one must wonder if there is as high of a ceiling as you’d want for someone who still lacks polish in many regards. That said, if he does develop a solid jumper, especially in catch & shoot situations where he isn’t the primary ballhandler, he could really blossom in the NBA. Defensively, if he reaches his potential there’s All-Defense upside there. He has all the tools and the defense will get him minutes, but the shooting will limit his ability to truly standout at the next level.
While it’s is possible that the Hawks would consider Dosunmu at pick No. 20; Keon Johnson, Jaden Springer, and Miles McBride would all likely end up higher on the big board down at State Farm Arena. That said, one could see the fit for Dosunmu in Atlanta. The Hawks have lacked a dynamic guard while Trae Young sits out, especially one who can change the shape of a defense. Dosunmu is not the level of playmaker that the Hawks would be looking for, but his ability to get to the rim does open up options for the Hawks’ second unit with the level of shooting provided by Danilo Gallinari, Tony Snell, and Kevin Huerter. Kris Dunn did not play any meaningful minutes for the Hawks this season, if he isn’t part of Atlanta’s future plans, Dosunmu could fit the same mold and be valuable in Atlanta. Depending on what the board looks like, the Hawks could be happy with drafting a player of Dosunmu’s defensive prowess, as the offensive side of the ball is well handled on this team.