This year could be a big one for one of the Chicago Bulls’ former top draft picks.
“I think Coby White‘s gonna have a monster year,” said NBC Sports Chicago’s K.C. Johnson on the “Bulls Talk Podcast” on August 4. “There’s just something about the way he’s trending, the way they just obviously so quickly moved to reward what they see in his potential and his work ethic.”
White, 23, averaged 9.7 points, 2.9 rebounds, and 2.8 assists this past season in a step back in many statistical categories but his overall game improved.
The former No. 7 overall pick of the 2019 NBA Draft took advantage of his first healthy offseason last summer, coming back with an improved handle and decision-making, both of which plagued him to start his career.
He spent the majority of last season on the trading block.
This offseason, however, the Bulls re-signed him to a three-year, $36 million contract before free agency began. They could have slow-played the situation because White would have been a restricted free agent meaning the Bulls would have the right of first refusal for any contract offer sheet he may have signed.
White has made no bones that he has designs on being a starter one day.
Coby White May Have to Wait for Starting Role
There have been clues that the Bulls don’t quite see him that way just yet but that doesn’t mean he won’t see major minutes or be a part of high-leverage situations.
“He closed a lot of games last season even before this offseason, and he’s having a healthy offseason,” Johnson added. “I don’t know, just a vibe I have… I feel like Coby’s gonna have a monster year.”
And the team still has high hopes for him.
“Coby has come a long way,” an anonymous Bulls staffer said, per Keith Smith of Spotrac on July 14. “We think he could win Sixth Man of the Year. He’s been that good as a bench scorer.”
White averaged 13.6 points, 4.9 assists (to just 1.7 turnovers), and 3.9 boards over the final 15 games of the season, shooting 44.2% from beyond the arc. While he may begin the season off the bench, it might be hard to keep him there if that stretch was any indication of what may be coming this season.
Coby White Working With DeMar DeRozan
White credited his work with trainer Johnny “Dribble2Much” Stephene last summer for helping him improve his handles which led to increased confidence on the court. This summer, White is back working with Stephene who also trains DeMar DeRozan.
The two Bulls teamed up at an open run put on by Stephene on August 4.
White is the only one among them who was on the Bulls before DeRozan as one of just two players to pre-date executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas – who systematically disassembled the roster put together by his predecessors – along with two-time All-Star Zach LaVine.
That White was able to survive the purge and being on the trading block to land a lucrative, multi-year deal just makes his journey that much more remarkable. Hopefully, for the Bulls’ sake, it also portends to what’s to come as he gets even more settled in.