With a Starting Role Within Reach, Coby White Says His Decision-Making Has Come "A Long Way"

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With a Starting Role Within Reach, Coby White Says His Decision-Making Has Come “A Long Way”

Chicago Bulls

Coby White is two weeks away from potentially starting his second-ever NBA game. During the offseason, the 20-year-old point guard watched his coaching staff change and his organization restructure. Exactly where he would stand inside the revamped franchise was anyone’s guess, especially as rumors started to swirl about the new front office’s interest in acquiring a more traditional playmaker.

The draft and free agency came and went without the addition of lead guard competition. Instead, the Bulls new head coach, Billy Donovan, stood in front of reporters on the first day of training camp and declared White as the “primary ballhandler.” To be sure, he didn’t name any starters, but he also didn’t shy away from expressing confidence in the Bulls second-year guard. And White doubled-down on that title, telling reporters one day later that Donovan wants him to be the “primary point guard.”

For White stans like myself, this is a huge win. I’ve been on the bandwagon since before the Bulls selected him No. 7-overall in the 2019 draft. However, at the same time, I can’t ignore the concerns. White has always been a score-first guard, and his first season as a professional left a lot to be desired as a lead playmaker. I attribute a lot of that to his off-ball play and sparkplug bench role, but stats are stats: White has not shown enough to be totally comfortable with his role as a lead guard. At least, not yet.

In a Zoom conversation with reporters on Monday, though, White sounded confident about the strides he’s made this offseason:

“Playing with the guys, my decision-making has come a long way from last year,” White said (h/t NBC Sports Chicago). “I still got a ways to go for sure. Like I said, it’s gonna be ups and downs, just gotta keep moving, gotta keep getting better, that’s all I can ask for.”

“Just slowing down. I think last year I played at one speed a lot, especially in the halfcourt. I feel like for me, it’s just making the simple play, not making it harder than what it needs to be.”

Thus far, his teammates have had nothing but positive words to say about his development, as well. Even the guy whose job White stole has been left nothing short of impressed:

“Even after I saw him after nine months, he did huge progress,” Tomas Satoransky said last week. “You can tell that he was working out a lot. I can see the difference from also a mental standpoint and just from conversation with each other that he really matured over that year. And I think he deservingly should be in this role.

Whether or not White has made the kind of improvement he and his teammates rave about will only be confirmed once the season starts up later this month. However, decision-making and half-court play were arguably White two biggest weaknesses last season, so to hear both as the recognized areas of improvement is encouraging. White isn’t turnover-prone (67th percentile in TOV%), but he would miss a handful of reads and force a number of shots last season. To be the lead guard this team desperately needs, there is no doubt his court-vision and scoring efficiency (effective field-goal percentage only in 43rd percentile last season) will have to take a big step forward.

I warn everyone not to read too much into preseason action, especially when a guy hasn’t played in nearly nine months, but this Friday will give us our first glimpse at White’s improvement in these areas. I look forward to seeing what the guy can do.

Author: Elias Schuster

Elias Schuster is the Lead Bulls Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @Schuster_Elias.