BENCH HAS YOUTHFUL GLOW
Dosunmu, White, Williams sparkle with fast, aggressive style
HOUSTON — They haven’t come up with a nickname yet.
They might not even be looking for one. The players on the new-look Bulls bench have other priorities these days, and nicknames aren’t exactly on the agenda.
“Just energy, man,’’ guard Coby White said. “We just want to bring that energy on both ends of the floor, just playing fast and getting stops. When we’re out there, we just want that focus to be on getting stops and go, run-outs, all that kind of stuff. We’re young and athletic.’’
And as the victory against the Rockets demonstrated on Saturday, they’re still a work in progress.
White went scoreless, and Patrick Williams and Ayo Dosunmu weren’t exactly lighting it up, either, each scoring three points.
Veteran Andre Drummond saved the group with his 11 points and five rebounds.
It was the first poor showing by the second unit since Patrick Beverley was added to the roster eight games ago.
Beverley’s signing is what led coach Billy Donovan to move some pieces. Starters Dosunmu and Williams moved to the second unit, and Alex Caruso joined Beverley and Zach LaVine in a three-guard starting lineup.
The move has been paying off. The Bulls just finished a 2-0 road trip to Denver and Houston and, more important, were back in a play-in spot, albeit the last one in the Eastern Conference.
White, Williams and Dosunmu have been liberated from overthinking shot selection.
Drummond is the old man of the group but, unlike LaVine, Nikola Vucevic and DeMar DeRozan, doesn’t demand touches.
Donovan usually staggers DeRozan in with the group, but DeRozan is a willing playmaker, so he lets the kids do their thing.
“This is not to say that the first group doesn’t have this, but what those three guys [Dosunmu, White and Williams] have is they’re really, really good at communicating with each other, and it’s very honest and direct,’’ Donovan said.
The three often can be seen sitting by each other in the locker room before and after games, talking shop — what went right, what went wrong.
They’re no longer worrying about when they’re playing or for how long. There’s a feeling of consistency with their roles, so the focus is simply basketball.
“We also have a good chemistry . . . our roles have been consistent since the break really, and right now we kind of know our minutes, how long we’re going to be out there together,’’ White said. “That’s important.
“So, yeah, it’s been fun to play with those guys. Just be who we are . . . young and fast.’’
White has especially flourished with the new-look bench group with a plus-27, averaging 8.9 points and 3.7 assists. But they’ve all had moments. That’s what Donovan has appreciated.
“Coby is in his fourth year, Patrick his third year, Ayo his second — they’re experiencing a lot of the same things, so there is a good level of communication of what they need from each other when they’re out there,’’ Donovan said. “I like the way they’re competing; I like the way that group has been playing. I like the way those three have played together. I think it’s freed them up to play fast, play aggressive.’’
Their style of play brings a smile to White’s face, especially with only 15 regularseason games left and so much on the line.
“I think we can be special,’’ White said. “I’m excited to see what we can become.’’