The Chicago Bulls have unleashed Coby White this preseason, and he hasn’t disappointed.
White is averaging a team-high 26.4 minutes per game through the team’s first four matchups (13th most in the NBA), and with 16.8 points per game, he’s also the Bulls second-leading scorer (behind only Zach LaVine, who’s 23.3 points per game rank 5th in the NBA). And with this performance, plus the longer leash, White may well have played himself into a larger early-season role.
And that’s great!
Given the Summer League skepticism regarding his potential immediate impact, it’s nice to see that his explosive skill set and natural scoring ability have translated into the NBA environment (so far). All the rookie has done is exceed expectations, and it’s great to see him taking it all in: “I just feel like I’m learning,” White told the Sun-Times. “I’m taking big steps. And every day is a process. I’m just trying to continue to get better every day.” Well, he’s a fast learner.
Getting into the weeds, head coach Jim Boylen has witnessed some pretty substantial improvement over these past two games, after an already solid performance in the rookie’s first two preseason games.
Specifically, White’s shooting was a clear area of improvement after a rough go at Summer League. During the Bulls first two preseason games against the Milwaukee Bucks and New Orleans Pelicans, White went 36 percent (9-25) from the field and 25 percent (2-8) from three-point range. In his last two performances against the Indiana Pacers and Toronto Raptors, White upgraded those numbers to 42 percent (16-38) from the field and 38 percent (8-21) from behind the arc.
Of course, these numbers come with a pretty large increase in attempts, but that has also clearly helped White get into a rhythm. If you don’t believe me, just watch it. Last night against the Raptors, White hit four three’s for the second-straight game.
During games against the Bucks and Pelicans, we saw much more of what White could do on the fast-break and in the paint, but over these past two games, we’re seeing the jumper added to his repertoire. Part of that – at least last night – has to do with White playing a bulk of his minutes with a better lineup on the floor. While White has the capability to work off the dribble behind the arc, he’s probably an ever more capable spot-up shooter.
He just doesn’t have the basketball IQ quite yet to let it fly on his own from three consistently, even though he may be able to create the separation with some crafty ball-handling.
White’s shooting mixed with his sheer speed was reason enough to have him as the first guard off the bench last night. Considering Boylen discussed that yesterday’s game, as well as Thursday’s, will feature lineups and rotations similar to what we can expect to see in the regular season, it appears as though White will be heavily involved.
In a game where almost all the starters (not Wendell Carter Jr.) received 20+ minutes, White had the most minutes off the bench with 23. He played off the ball a lot, which will, most likely, be where we see most of his action with the lack of wing depth plaguing this team. Keep in mind, this is also why we’ll probably see a lack of assists become a trend for White.
Eventually, White will have to add this to his game if he wants to become the true point guard this team needs. It’s a bit concerning we’ve only seen one assist over these past two games, but I think when the regular season starts, and the green light to put up 12 three’s turns yellow, we’ll see the rookie have to become a bit more passive. And remember, he’s a quicker learner.
White’s ability to make adjustments is like him in transition: fast.
As expressed during Training Camp, the Bulls didn’t know he could come along this quickly, but I’m sure they’re glad he has.