When a guy balls-out during the Summer League, it’s never a bad thing, but it surely makes you feel nervous about whether he will live up to the hype come the regular season.
But when a guy is utter trash during Summer League, you start to question whether they’re even worth being on an NBA roster. At the end of the day, it’s never the end-all-be-all. But for what it’s worth, Coby White gave us the happy medium.
As we watched White hit the NBA court (sort of) for the first time this summer, we saw plenty of his weaknesses. He had an inconsistent shot, a poor three-ball, rough decision-making, and his fair share of turnovers. However, through all of that, White still managed to average 15.0 points per game, average 5.6 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game and draw up some dazzling plays. Honestly, it felt like the perfect kind of Summer League performance.
Despite the weaknesses, it was easy to see a recognition and willingness to improve (which I think is all you can ask for at this point). The Chicago Tribune’s K.C. Johnson talked to White and Summer League head coach Nate Loenser about this more and you should give it a read.
Specifically, I absolutely loved what I saw from White in the last game. He took a step back from the scoring-heavy approach and worked on facilitating the ball. In that game against the Magic, he had a Summer-League-high eight rebounds and eight assists. The scoring total (seven points) obviously took a hit, but he certainly demonstrated the ability to step into the true-point guard role if need be.
Coby White obviously struggled shooting the ball in summer league, but I was impressed by some of his passes. Liked this lefty kickout on the move to Adam Mokoka for three out of the pick-and-roll: pic.twitter.com/3qH21HkI8d
— Ricky O'Donnell (@SBN_Ricky) July 15, 2019
With that said, during the natural flow of the game, White too often finds himself chucking up poor shots and getting a little sloppy with the basketball. I also still think he’ll have a rude awakening in the half-court game, when the time comes.
He has some “okay” dribble moves, but his go-to behind the back maneuver will not work as well against NBA-caliber defenses. He just needs to beat people on the first step or learn to work off-the-ball a bit more. He can surely use his speed to get past defenders when he doesn’t have the ball in his hands, which I think will be even more do-able with LaVine on the court to take some pressure off.
White’s shot (34% from the field during Summer League) will come, he’s flat-out too good at scoring the basketball for it to not come around. His ability to sink shots behind the arc has never been at a high percentage (shot 3-30 over these five games *gulp*), but his mid-range game will most likely be his bread-and-butter. If he can stop on a dime in transition or put up a shot over the defender in the pick and roll, he’ll be draining buckets at the NBA-level in no time. He doesn’t have the best vertical, nor the highest release-point on his shot, but his quickness and timing will allow for him to get these shots off well.
Now, all of this isn’t to say he will not improve from three-point range. He has a solid shot form and we are dealing with a small sample size. The exact statistic may vary, but he actually shot pretty well from “NBA three-point range” in college, which we discussed earlier this offseason. In the end, you should keep in mind that poor shooting from behind the arc is nothing new during Summer League, and a player’s efficiency can change fast once they get some coaching under their belt. Mark Strotman helped remind us of that:
If you want to feel better about Coby White's 3-point shooting in Vegas, here's how Lotto rookie PGs since 2015 have shot from 3 in LVSL:
— Mark Strotman (@markstrot) July 15, 2019
Overall, White legitimately was one of the best all-around players during Summer League, and that is worth noting. He exposed just enough of his weaknesses for us to know what areas of his game we should see improve, but just enough of what he is capable of for us understand why he was one of the highest-rated point guards in the draft.
The guy has so much potential, and I’m ready to see it. I’ll just leave this here to get you excited:
Here ya go, just rewatch this every day until October.
— Bleacher Nation Bulls (@BN_Bulls) July 15, 2019