When the Bulls drafted 19-year-old Coby White in the first-round last June, they didn’t expect he would be ready to step right in as the starting point guard.
As it turns out, White hasn’t been playing much point guard at all, instead used mostly as a scorer off the bench while paired with either Kris Dunn or Ryan Arcidiacono. The rookie from North Carolina has turned in some outstanding games, outdueling Grizzlies rookie sensation Ja Morant in the second game of the regular season with 25 points in a Bulls win.
Then there was the epic second half performance against the Knicks in November. White hit a franchise record seven 3-pointers in the fourth quarter with his college coach Roy Williams watching from the stands at the United Center. He poured in 28 in the miraculous come-from-behind win in Charlotte against the Hornets, then scored 19 in a victory at the Pistons just before Christmas. White finished 2019 with back-to-back 18 point games against the Hawks and Bucks, then scored 23 against the Pacers, including five 3-pointers on Jan. 10 at the UC.
But in between those quick-strike scoring outbursts, White has experienced some typical first-year growing pains. His shooting percentage isn’t what he would like at just 37.8 percent from the field and 34.7 percent from the 3-point line. His assist to turnover ratio hasn’t been great, with 91 helpers compared to 61 miscues.
Shot selection and decision-making are areas White will need to improve on as he continues the transition from scorer to facilitator. The Bulls aren’t counting on the rookie to run the offense right now, with Tomas Satoransky, Dunn and Arcidiacono all available and more experienced at the point. But the time will come when the franchise wants to turn over the keys to the speedy 6-foot-5 guard, and given his tireless work ethic, you can expect him to be ready.
While Morant is the odds-on favorite to win Rookie of the Year, and other young point guards like Luka Doncic, Trae Young and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander are thriving, the Bulls are taking a more conservative approach to White’s development. Even though he isn’t putting up big assist numbers right now, the coaching staff and front office are confident he can be a high-level point guard eventually.
In the meantime, fans will continue to enjoy the scoring binges that are reminiscent of former Bulls sharpshooters Ben Gordon, Nate Robinson and Jamal Crawford. When Coby White enters the game, you never know exactly what to expect. And, it’s the anticipation of what lies ahead that makes him such an intriguing prospect.Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Bulls easily on your device.