Bulls Former Top Pick Points Finger at HC Billy Donovan Over Recent Play

Billy Donovan, Chicago Bulls

Getty Head coach Billy Donovan of the Chicago Bulls.

It is not surprising that Chicago Bulls head coach Billy Donovan is one of the key driving forces behind the resurgence of Coby White this season.

To hear the fourth-year guard discuss it, however, is a different thing entirely.

“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 a video shared by Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic. “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 finished the Bulls’ 124-96 romp over the wounded Portland Trail Blazers on March 24 with 19 points on the strength of hitting 4-of-5 threes and set a new season-high with nine assists adding four rebounds and a pair of steals for good measure.

It continued a run of strong play from the former seventh-overall pick.

White is averaging 14.5 points, 4.5 assists, 3.3 rebounds, and 1.0 steals over the last six games while knocking down 54.5% of his triples as the Bulls have gone 4-2.

“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.”

His head coach certainly appreciates his gains as a two-way player, perhaps especially in light of Lonzo Ball’s murky outlook.

Billy Donovan Offers High Praise for Coby White

“He’s played well,” Donovan said in another video shared by Mayberry after the game. “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.”

Donovan said that he thought White was “evolving into a two-way player” which is no small praise considering White entered the league as a streaky shooter and has previously failed to take the reins as a true lead guard.

If the final product is somewhere in the middle, the Bulls would have to consider re-signing him – he is set to be a restricted free agent this coming offseason.

White had been on the trade block since last year’s deadline but, with nothing coming to fruition, he has gotten a chance to showcase those improvements he’s made to his defense and his handles, the last skill courtesy of Johnny “Dribble2Much” Stephene who also trains DeMar DeRozan and, this past summer, Patrick Williams.

Coby White Could Be Bulls Developmental Success Story

White’s role has changed almost every season he’s been in the NBA as he’s dealt with inconsistency and injuries at the same time.

He is also one of two holdovers from the previous regime since replaced by executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas. The other is franchise cornerstone Zach LaVine who is a success story but, at 28, does not offer the same beacon of hope for the next generation – Williams and rookie Dalen Terry – as the 23-year-old White.

His continued progress could also serve as a feather in Karnisovas’ cap after moving out several players who have gone on to approach their ceilings as players elsewhere, albeit under different circumstances.