Coby White's Turnaround, Upcoming Schedule, Sato's Hops, and Other Bulls Bullets

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Coby White’s Turnaround, Upcoming Schedule, Sato’s Hops, and Other Bulls Bullets

Chicago Bulls

No, I’m totally not going to point out that AK appears to fist-bump everyone but Lauri Markkanen in the video below:

In all seriousness, I bet it means absolutely nothing. For all we know, the two fist-bumped in the tunnel or before the video was taken. Either way, it’s just kinda funny to see AK give him the unintentional cold shoulder.

•  Since returning to the starting lineup five games ago, Coby White has gone from Charmander to Charmeleon (he isn’t a full-blow Charziard yet). And for those of you who don’t understand that reference, I’m simply saying he’s evolved. White has averaged 17.2 points on 44.3 percent shooting from the field and 42.4 percent shooting from downtown. Even better, he is dishing out 6.4 assists with just 1.4 turnovers per game. He has greatly reduced his tunnel-vision shots, and he has greatly increased his ability to run the offense. The sample size has been small, but it isn’t all that difficult to tell when something has clicked for a player. Those watching at home have noticed and head coach Billy Donovan has noticed it:

“He’s playing really good basketball, and I’m really proud of the way he’s grown from starting the season to where he is now. It just looks like the game has slowed down for him. He’s making good decisions, he’s taking care of the basketball, his assist-to-turrnover ratio has been really good. He’s really grown in a lot of ways, in my opinion. He’s taking the right shots that are there.”

•   Why the sudden change? White continues to praise assistant coach Maurice Cheeks in his postgame press conference, but I think the bulk of the praise simply goes to White. The second-year guard has seen his role change pretty drastically this season, starting on-ball, then moving more off-ball, then moving entirely to the bench, and then moving back into the starting lineup. Not to mention, he has seen a vastly different coaching staff, style of play, and roster over his first two seasons. To be clear, I’m not trying to say we should all jump back on the “Coby White Future Starting Point Guard” bandwagon, but I also think we’re being reminded that patience is a virtue. Everything slows down for players at different times, which is why White hasn’t stressed about his up-and-down season.

“I think it’s just starting to slow down. I just think in today’s day and age, everybody just wants it to happen now, and I feel like certain things are a process. Everybody doesn’t figure it out on the fly. So, for me, I’m still learning and I’m still growing.”

•   I also want to reiterate that I think the frontcourt upgrades and changes in PACE have helped White see things clearer. As the speedster we know he is, it felt as if he got caught running out of his shoes at times in Donovan’s offense. Effectively pulling off all that ball movement and motion work is hard enough, and White was trying to understand this new offense while also trying to play lead guard for the first time in the NBA. Slowing the game down a bit (Bulls PACE dropped from 8th in the league to 24th after the trade deadline) gives White more time to react. Then, add in some experienced big men like Nikola Vucevic and Daniel Theis, and making the simple play can become that much easier.

•   Man, it would have been nice to have that Cavs game. The Bulls’ upcoming schedule is apparently the 4th-toughest, according to Tankathon, and it’s not hard to see why after looking at the next six games. After playing their next two against the Miami Heat, the Knicks, Bucks, Hawks, and 76ers all rest ahead. Nine of the team’s remaining 13 games are all against top-8 teams in the Eastern Conference. Perhaps the Bulls get lucky and catch some of these top-tier playoff teams resting guys toward the end of the regular season, but that still wouldn’t make this overall grueling stretch that much easier. Please, come back soon, Zach.

•   So I was watching the Cubs obliterate the Mets the other day 16-4 and it got me thinking: What is the NBA equivalent to a position player pitching? There is really no other waive of the white flag quite like it in sports. A team is straight-up giving up while also letting some non-pitcher live his fun dream of taking the mound. Like, even if we know the game is over when David Ross allows Anthony Rizzo to pitch, we still kind of want to watch because it’s silly and weird. Where else does that happen in sports? The easy NBA answer feels like clearing the bench, and while that satisfies the “giving up” factor, it doesn’t really make anyone want to keep watching for something “silly and weird.” With that in mind, I think the equivalent would have to be letting Cristiano Felicio play point guard or something. My other thought would be going into full-blown Harlem Globetrotters mode. Players are just chucking up half-court shots and shooting the ball from their butts and playing basically no defense. That’d be a fun way to give up.


•   There is never an easy way to transition to something like this, but I really want to make sure we mention the tragic Terrence Clarke news. The former top-recruit and Kentucky Wildcast passed away yesterday in Los Angeles after a car accident. At 19-years-old, he had declared for the NBA Draft and undoubtedly had a shot in the league ahead of him. My thoughts are with Clarke’s family and friends today. RIP, Terrence.


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Author: Elias Schuster

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