AP Photo/Darren Abate
An Ode to San Antonio’s Great Scouting History
The San Antonio Spurs are an organization built by professional scouting. Getting the best value out of every draft pick is a favorite pastime of the Spurs. It’s tradition, like telling your uncle to “shut up and get back to your wine” when he makes some questionable political comment during Thanksgiving.
On the Spurs’ 2013-2014 championship roster, not a single player, excluding Tim Duncan, was drafted within the first 14 picks of the draft. That championship squad included six 2nd-round picks, and three undrafted players.
As the Spurs look to recreate their championship roster, the 2017 NBA Draft offered one particular hidden gem at the end of the first round, Derrick White.
Coming out of high school, Derrick White stood just 6-foot-1 and was a relatively unknown name, receiving just one offer to play Division II ball at Colorado Springs before tacking on three inches his junior year of college. This sudden growth spurt landed him a transfer to the University of Colorado, where White balled out his senior year, receiving All-American honors after a 25.8 ppg campaign.
After dissecting his college tapes, the attributes that stood out the most was his quick-release jumper, three-level scoring talent, and ability to pull up off the dribble.
Although White was seen as a natural scorer, the knock on him was his lack of basketball IQ, weak ball-handling, and lack of athleticism. Nevertheless, San Antonio saw his raw scoring potential as a possible successor to Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, or perhaps both.
After hopping in and out of the G-league his rookie year, his sophomore year included a barrage of 20 point games, serving as a precursor to his imminent coming out party.
In the first round of the 2019 playoffs, San Antonio found themselves in a 1-1 series against the Denver Nuggets. In Game 2, White fell victim to Jamal Murray dropping 21 fourth quarter points on his head, which led White to erupt for 36/5/5 in Game 3, nailing Parker-esque midrange Js and tough finishes at the rim. The Spurs would go on to lose the series in seven, but White’s all-around performance in such a big game showed the young guard can live up to expectations and fill big shoes.
A prime example as to why White can be the Spurs’ next great guard, is that he and Parker have thrived in the same plays ran by Coach Popovich.
As the Spurs’ run their infamous loop play, the runner has the option to either go baseline off three screens, or run atop the screens to create space. In the following clips, both Tony Parker and Derrick White run the play to perfection depending on how they viewed the defense based on their basketball IQ, an attribute so many scouts knocked White for.
Video link courtesy of https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iusUh0LhB0w
Video from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zSN4AM9v1Lk
Entering his third year in the league, White looks to mimic Tony Parker, and use his newfound confidence from his big playoff performance to fuel his numbers. With the basketball insight from coach Pop, and veterans on the roster, Derrick White will put up averages reminiscent of his 36 point outbreak.