Billy Donovan Makes Bold Claim About Coby White After Bulls Beat Blazers

Coby White, Chicago Bulls

Getty Coby White #0 of the Chicago Bulls.

This season has been all about growth for Chicago Bulls guard Coby White.

“I think he’s really evolving into a two-way player,” Bulls head coach Billy Donovan said in a video posted to Twitter by Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic on March 24.

White finished the Bulls’ win over the Portland Trail Blazers with 19 points, nine assists, four rebounds, and two steals with just two turnovers. He shot over 77% from the floor and knocked down 4-of-5 threes. It was White’s fourth straight double-digit scoring performance and fifth in the last six outings.

He is averaging 14.5 points, 4.5 assists, 3.3 rebounds, and 1.0 steals in that span while knocking down 54.5% of his triples as the Bulls have gone 4-2.

“He’s played well,” Donovan said. “I’m really, really happy for him. Besides the offensive piece for him, the thing that’s been really impressive to me is the jump he’s made from last year to this year defensively and the amount of time and effort. He had a really, really good summer and I really attribute a lot of his success to that. I mean, he invested a lot. And especially on the defensive end, just trying to work defensively. And, again I think, if he’s not making shots, there’s still ways he can affect the game.”

White’s numbers are down on the season compared to last year so his recent scoring resurgence is surely a welcomed sight. That it’s coming amid what has been his best campaign in virtually every other aspect of his game makes it that much better.

“Over the course of the season, I think I earned coach’s trust with the ball in my hands in the pick-and-rolls and that type of thing,” White said in another video from Mayberry. “So I give him a lot of credit for giving me the opportunity to play with the ball in my hands more and play in the pick-and-roll more.”

White entered the league as a streaky shooter and defensive liability — when his shot was not falling, he was borderline unplayable.

His newfound two-way ability is key, especially in light of Lonzo Ball‘s nebulous outlook.

Coby White Has Made Notable Strides All Season

White spoke of the work that he put in over this past offseason addressing his handle in particular.

“Shout out Johnny Dribble2Much, we got it in all summer,” White told NBC Sports Chicago Bulls play-by-play analyst, Adam Amin after a win over the Utah Jazz on November 28. “I knew that was one thing I had to work on coming in, and Billy told me that was a big key for me. So this whole summer, I just worked on my ballhandling. Getting it tighter…dribbling in traffic. It’s been beneficial for me.”

Told of Donovan’s compliments, White said, “I appreciate it”.

“I worked really hard this summer, especially on my defense,” he said. “And to see it start paying off is a great feeling. … I’m just going to continue to try to get better. I got a long way to go still. Try to continue to do the right things and make the right reads and take what the defense gives me.”

Coby White’s Strong Play Could Benefit Him This Summer

White’s improved play is helping the Bulls on the court now. But it could help him more this summer when he hits restricted free agency. It was once a foregone conclusion that he would be playing elsewhere next season. Now, while it is still a possibility, it is far less of a given than it once seemed to be.

Restricted free agents rarely generate significant interest. But White is still only 22 years old and has shown signs of real progress after his first full offseason training regimen.

While other teams still might be leery, the Bulls might be more inclined to keep him.

The Bulls roster is thin on young, developing talent and White still fits the bill. With so many other questions surrounding the rest of the roster, White represents a known commodity who can serve as an example of what happens when a player buys in.

“Everything has to carry over,” White said. “This game will carry over to the next game, and then that game will carry over to the next game. But, this is the start of a three-game road trip. If you start off right, it carries over to the next two games.”