Absence makes the heart grow fonder. Or, lyrically, you don’t know what you got until it’s gone. Fourth-year Chicago Bulls guard Coby White, 22, was not even born when Cinderella released their famous power ballad in 1988 but he may be the Bulls’ equivalent to the lost love in the song.
In the Bulls’ 118-113 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks, his third game back after an eight-game absence, White had 14 points, three rebounds, three steals, two assists, and one block.
Most importantly for the Bulls, he hit 4-of-7 triples.
“He changed the game,” White’s teammate, DeMar DeRozan, said via NBC Sports Chicago’s Bulls insider K.C. Johnson. “Cob gets hot, any given game he can make six or eight 3s. He changes the way defenses guard us when he’s out there.”
Coby Came Through
DeRozan added that he is constantly encouraging White to keep shooting even when it’s not falling and that he knew he would go to him for a big corner three if White’s man left him.
White himself has not shot the ball particularly well this season hitting a career-worst 31.3% of his threes.
But he has made a concerted effort to give more energy and affect the game in other ways.
The Bulls, though, need White to shoot it as he did against the Bucks. He has hit multiple threes in five of his 10 games this season. He has gone 0-for in three of the other five giving a glimpse into the up-and-down nature of White’s play. Despite that, head coach Billy Donovan says he’s never wavered.
“He can course correct pretty quickly,” Donovan said. “The one thing I love about Coby is there’s a resiliency there. He doesn’t get too down on himself. He stays engaged and just believes in himself.”
White scored six of his points by hitting two of his threes in the fourth quarter helping the Bulls notch just their first clutch win in seven tries this season.
And the Bulls aren’t surprised one bit.
“He’s been doing that his whole career. He stays ready. He’s confident,” Zach LaVine said of White. “He’s not scared to take or miss any shot. That’s what I’ve always respected about him. It’s nothing new. He’s done it before.”
This is no small moment for White in the final year of his contract and no plans for an extension and with the Bulls having him on the trade block for the last year.
If he can find some consistency to bring what he did against Milwaukee, would they reconsider?
White’s Impact Invaluable
The Bulls had 25 clutch wins last season, the third most in the NBA. That this one came on a night when LaVine had 18 points but went 3-for-11 from beyond the arc and then went 1-for-8 overall in the fourth quarter is a testament to his teammates.
That certainly includes DeRozan who dropped a game-high 36 points, including 18 points in the fourth quarter alone.
And Nikola Vucevic scored nine of his 18 points in the final frame.
But White’s impact in the stat sheet — he ranks fifth on the Bulls in on-off differential, per Cleaning The Glass — and spacing the floor for LaVine’s slashing, DeRozan’s mid-range game, or Vucevic’s post-ups is also invaluable for a team that is light on his skill set.