The North Carolina prospect posted career highs in points (36), rebounds (10) and assists (13) — a product of the Bulls’ second-best PACE rating that trails only the Washington Wizards.
Chicago currently averages the sixth-most points in the league and managed to keep with some of the league’s best teams on their West Coast road trip, falling to the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers by a single possession while also upsetting the Portland Trailblazers 111-108 on Jan. 5.
But beneath the newfound offensive competence has been troubling defensive play.
White embodies these struggles, owning the worst defensive points saved rating of any second-year player in the league, per NBA Math. His rating is an extreme outlier from the rest of his peers.
White’s defensive futility has overwhelmed his offensive contributions. The second-year guard has proven average-at-best offensively this season as a starter, although this is in part to his role early in the season as the Bulls’ primary ballhandler and the team’s turnover issues while learning a new offensive system.
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Bulls Are the NBA’s Most Turnover Prone Team
Chicago’s defensive struggles begin with their offense, surrendering a league-high 17.8 turnovers per game and posting a league-low 1.4 assist to turnover ratio.
The Bulls have shown a slight improvement offensively in their total assists per game but are offering opponents too many opportunities to strike back, resulting in their second-worst defensive rating and the most points allowed off turnovers per game (20.4).
The cause is likely in part to playing with a short roster the past four games with four players out due to COVID-19 protocols in Lauri Markkanen, Ryan Arcidiacono, Chandler Hutchinson and Tomas Satoransky. Fatigue late in the game has shown to be a factor as Chicago has struggled to slip past screens and make stops in transition.
This does leave some promise for the 4-7 Bulls moving forward.
Markkanen and Arcidiacono Return
While the league has become increasingly impacted by COVID-19, Chicago has actually gotten healthier.
The Bulls welcomed Markkanen and Arcidiacono back to team practice on Tuesday. Chicago’s game against the Boston Celtics was postponed due to the Celtics not having enough available players for Tuesday’s matchup.
With the postponement, Coach Billy Donovan has been gifted a full week between the Bulls’ last game against the Lakers and their matchup with the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday.
Donovan made a point that he won’t rush Markkanen or Arcidiacono back into the lineup as the team continues its development.
“We’re going to go through a period of time of getting Lauri and Arch back into the mix or when Hutch and Sato come back. Any time you’re integrating players or losing players, it’s always an adjustment period,” Donovan said. “But I think my goal would be can the group continue to have just constant improvement? I’ve seen a lot of growth, I’ve seen a lot of improvement. We haven’t gotten the end results we want, but I think we’ve made some strides in some areas as we’ve tried to focus on improvement.”
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