Is Coby White the Guard the Bulls Need?
After an exciting off-season in the NBA, it is time to look ahead to the regular season. The Bulls acquired Thad Young, Tomas Satoransky, and Coby White. The most talked-about player is the latter.
White is an exciting prospect coming out of UNC who will be a combo-guard for the Bulls. Is he going to be what the Bulls need to turn the franchise around? After Summer League, we still have more questions than answers. Though White averaged 15.0 points and 4.8 assists per game, he did it in startlingly inefficient fashion, shooting just 33.7% from the field and an abysmal 10% from downtown, while turning the ball over 3.8 times a game in 30.8 minutes played.
White was a letdown. His playmaking ability was not his strong suit going into the draft, but averaging 1.2 assists for every turnover is particularly bad for your high lottery pick. His decision-making was especially bad in transition, but luckily, White has upside in this phase of the game because his speed with the ball is an elite skill. The transition game is a point of emphasis for Jim Boylen going into the 2019-20 Season, and while he can’t train White to be fast, he can train him to pass the ball to the right person.
Even worse than his assist-to-turnover ratio was his three-point percentage, though. It was really, REALLY bad. White made 3-of-30 three-point attempts in Summer League - it hurts just to type it. Shooting was a question mark for White coming in, but 3-30 is three question marks and two exclamation points, all bolded and underlined. Moreover, White showed an inability to create space for perimeter shots; the only good news is that we can chalk it up to a small sample size.
Summer League is not where the NBA showcases its defense, but that aspect of White’s game will be just as important this season. The Bulls were god-awful before Otto Porter came to town, and merely-awful after. Chicago clearly put an emphasis on bringing a hard-nosed, effort-driven culture to the team. They brought in Young and Satoransky to help with that transition, but it is equally important to have young guys buying in as well. White was picked when he was as much for his culture fit as anything else.
He’s a leader, he works hard, and he has a tremendous amount of potential. His athleticism is near the top of his class, his strength is impressive for a guard, his speed is unteachable, as is his size in the backcourt. With all of these intangibles, it is not hard to see the sky's the limit for White.
The most optimistic Bulls fan would say that the point is the lone position among the Chicago starting five without a legitimate long-term solution. They have Zach LaVine at shooting guard, Otto Porter Jr. on the wing, Lauri Markkanen at power forward, and Wendell Carter Jr. in the post. If White can be the missing point guard, the Bulls’ future would be bright.
Obviously, that starting five is further away at the moment -- the Satoransky signing means that White will start off as backcourt depth. For now, White should be a guy who can bring scoring presence off the bench at a position that the Bulls desperately need, but he’s not without his negatives.
White’s ‘pros’ should balance out his ‘cons’ for the time being, but it’s up to the Bulls’ coaching staff to point him in the right direction. White has the intangibles but will need to grow his fundamentals. If the Bulls develop him well, they may have locked up the lead guard for the first time since healthy Derrick Rose.
NBA potential: Lou Williams