Coby White is developing a keen eye for the game – and it comes at the perfect time for the Chicago Bulls’ playoff push – The Denver Post
Coby White has quietly become one of the Chicago Bulls’ most important players with the ball in his hands.
The reserve guard has oscillated from shooter to point guard throughout his career with the Bulls. But this season has seen White finally develop equal confidence by making reads as he heads to the rim and shoots 3-pointers.
White’s facilitation output exploded down the stretch, climbing to 4.2 assists per game in March after averaging less than two assists in the first three months of the season.
“Over the course of the season, I think I’ve earned my coach’s trust with the ball in my hands and pick-and-rolls,” White said. “I give him a lot of credit for giving me the opportunity to play with the ball in my hands.”
The development of decision-making was a focal point for White. He’s not quite a playmaker, but rather operates in a middle zone as he balances long-range shots with an improved ability to rim-cut and spray passes to teammates.
White’s shooting has always been a bit streaky, but these new aspects of his game have remained consistent even on a 3-point night. He went 0 for 3 from long range on Monday and 3 for 8 overall in a 124-112 loss to the Clippers in Los Angeles. The Bulls entered Tuesday in 10th place in the Eastern Conference, one game behind the Atlanta Hawks and Toronto Raptors and three ahead of the Washington Wizards.
“He was very decisive,” guard Zach LaVine said. “We all know how well he can shoot the ball, but doing the reads, hitting the pocket, hitting the cross pass with a low man – I don’t think enough is said about the challenge he took on.”
When White first landed on the Bulls’ roster as a 19-year-old first-round pick in 2019, he was immediately met with a bombardment of skepticism about whether he could play as a true point guard. game. He was propelled into the position with little warning, playing outside the comfort zone of shoot first, ask questions later that he built in a single season at North Carolina .
Coach Billy Donovan acknowledges that those early years were full of growing pains for White. But it also celebrates how White has embraced this time of uncertainty to build himself beyond the definition he has worn in the league.
“There’s this internal conviction that he has within himself,” Donovan said. “It was a little tough for him in terms of having a limited amount of basketball, let alone getting into the NBA and being a starting point guard. And there was never any hesitation.
Donovan describes White as “stubborn” – a word White also uses for himself – in how he deals with challenges. After seeing himself being targeted by opposing attacks as a weak link, he spent the summer focusing heavily on developing the type of defender who stepped forward past Austin Reaves to fire a charge in the win. Sunday against the Los Angeles Lakers.
White took the same approach to his ball handling and distribution in the offseason, building a confidence that paid off.
“It’s not a finger pointer. He’s not a blamer,” Donovan said. “He really really looks at himself.”
White’s increased ability to put the ball on the ground is key to improving a key element of attack – challenging opposition defenders as they close in on peripheral shots.
Donovan has stressed the importance of attacking the fences since day one of preseason. The Bulls field plenty of power shooters, but can stretch and force opposing teams much more effectively if they pull defenders towards their shot and then get past them to attack the edge.
This is where the Bulls generate two of the best parts of their game: finishing off the rims and spraying passes for 3 catch-and-shoots.
“The more we can get Ayo (Dosunmu), Coby, Zach, Patrick (Williams), those guys at least attacking the fences – we’ve done a really good job this year moving the ball around and creating fences,” said said Donovan. “But if you look at our efficiency, I think that’s what helped our attack.
“We’ve gotten better at handling those situations in terms of guys deciding to make an extra pass, drive the ball, just shoot. And the more we can take advantage of those opportunities and be good at them, that’s really going to help us offensively.