The Chicago Bulls have their collective eyes on the playoffs but individually, some players have to keep at least one eye a little further out into the future.
“You don’t come (into) the league thinking, ‘I’m cool coming off the bench,’ ” White told Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic. “Yeah, I’ll play whatever role for whatever team I’m on, for sure. But my goal is to be a starter. That ain’t gonna change.”
White entered the league as the seventh overall pick in 2019 with billing as the Bulls’ point guard of the future. Through nearly four seasons as a pro, that has yet to come to fruition as he dealt with injuries and inconsistency to begin his career. This past summer, however, he was healthy and took full advantage to put together his best season to date. He is averaging 9.8 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 2.7 assists while shooting 37.2% from deep.
All of those are steps back from last season’s marks – though the three-point efficiency is still strong – but White has put forth a more well-rounded game than in previous years.
He is also on pace to make a career-high 74 appearances.
White is averaging 13.5 points on 51.5% shooting overall while knocking down 44.9% of his looks from beyond the arc adding 4.8 assists (to 1.6 turnovers), 3.7 rebounds, and nearly 1.0 steals over the last 13 games.
But it’s not just his offense.
Coby White Balanced His Game
White has done well to be an asset even when his shot isn’t falling. But the most encouraging gains are on the defensive end where his strength has allowed him to fight off bigger defenders trying to bully him.
“I knew I needed to get a lot stronger,” White told the NBC Sports Chicago broadcast crew after the Bulls’ win over the Memphis Grizzlies on April 2. “Last year I struggled when bigger wings or bigs tried to post me up. And so I focused on my lower body a lot this [past] summer and having a better base so it’s been beneficial for me this year.”
His newfound balance has only helped his conviction.
“To become a starter? H*** yeah,” White told Mayberry. “That (doesn’t) change. I’m only 23, you know what I’m saying? I’ve got so much room to grow. That goal (doesn’t) change. I want to be a starting guard in the league.”
Coby White May Get Another Shot to Start
White fell out of favor with head coach Billy Donovan in terms of being the Bulls’ point guard and the team has cycled through options since bringing in the still-injured Lonzo Ball two offseasons ago. But the former North Carolina Tar Heel’s resolve and progress has impressed to the point that he may get another crack.
“He is more than capable in my opinion of being a starter,” Donovan, per Mayberry. “A lot of it’s going to end up being what does your team look like? How does he need to be utilized and maximized?
Ball is expected to miss most if not all of next season following his latest knee surgery. But White is set to be a restricted free agent this summer whom the Bulls have had on the trade block for quite some time.
He may not get another team to bite based on his play – restricted free agency is notoriously tricky, especially for players of his caliber. But he may have played his way into another extended look with the Bulls who may or may not be heading for another massive overhaul. Players such as White who are young and will still be on team-friendly deals are of great value for roster-building purposes both as real assets and trade chips.
A team might be more willing to bite knowing it’s getting a well-round White at a certain number.