Bulls

Bulls confident in Coby White's future despite typical rookie growing pains

Bulls confident in Coby White's future despite typical rookie growing pains

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.   

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Zach LaVine continues All-Star push with historic outing against Cavaliers

Zach LaVine continues All-Star push with historic outing against Cavaliers

Forget statement games, Zach LaVine is having a statement month. 

In 10 January games, the Bulls’ 6-foot-6 messiah is the fourth-leading scorer in the NBA, averaging 30.6 points on 50% shooting (22.8 attempts). 

To borrow a word from Jim Boylen, his latest installment — 42 points on 19-for-31 shooting in a game the Bulls clawed back from down 19 in the second half to topple the Cavaliers 118-116 — was “herculean.”

“If that's not an all-star performance I don't know what is,” Boylen said. “He’s been a monster, man. He’s been a monster.”

To LaVine, there isn’t much supernatural about these types of nights; he’s been preaching his confidence and readiness to carry this team since day one. LaVine scored 21 of his 42 points in the fourth quarter, and on a night he conceded his legs were a tad worn, he attempted only six 3-pointers, instead finding most of his offense in the midrange and at the rim.

“Make or break time, we're not gonna get back in the game by just playing nicely. So I'm gonna attack their body, try to make them make a call. Had some tough finishes, made some tough shots, but I take that upon myself,” LaVine said. 

“Just playing the right way,” he added of his recent torrid streak. “I expect to. I put the work in for it.”

But All-Star berths and widespread acclaim aren’t dolled out based on individual point totals, alone, regardless of how effortless LaVine’s prolificity looks at times. And LaVine knows that. Casting the 42 points aside, he also finished the night with a team-high six rebounds, five steals and three assists. He was all-encompassing. Michael Jordan is the only player in Bulls history to post a line with those minimums in a game.

His contributions to a tightly clamped Bulls defense in the fourth were note-worthy for a player that's often advertised his motivation to grow as a two-way, all-around player. And most importantly, the game ended in victory.

“He [LaVine] wants to win. And he knows in order to win you gotta do multiple things in this league and I feel like he did that tonight,” Kris Dunn said. “He was guarding today, scoring the ball, getting rebounds, getting guys involved. We need that from him.”

LaVine lauded the Bulls’ new-look closing lineup of he, Dunn, Tomas Satoransky, Chandler Hutchison and Lauri Markkanen. The Bulls ventured to switch pick-and-rolls with that lineup late, as opposed to their usual blitzing, and outscored the Cavaliers 31-14 in the final period while forcing 10 turnovers.

“We made a lot of defensive stops, we got in transition. Chandler [Hutchison] came in and made some really big plays. Kris Dunn on the defensive end was incredible,” LaVine said. “And that helped me even recently get in some passing lanes. We put it together in the fourth.”

Tonight marked LaVine’s third 40-point game of the season and tenth straight with more than 20. His 31 field goal attempts were a season-high, three more than he hoisted in his record smashing 49-point night in Charlotte. Night in, night out, the on-court production and responsibility acceptance is there. But behind the scenes, he’s ever-improving, as well.

“He's been talking in the huddles, he's been chattering, he's been locked in,” Boylen said. “He's bouncing back from maybe a poor moment or a bad stretch. He's bouncing back now, he's not playing backward at all. And that's what the great ones do.”

“I stepped into this year from the get-go using my voice more, and you know, I've never been a real vocal person but you know, when I say something I think my voice carries weight,” LaVine added.

LaVine isn’t getting ahead of himself. He called this win — however exhilarating — an “ugly” one and lamented the familiar lackluster play that dug the Bulls their 18-point halftime deficit to begin with.

Still, the statements are piling up. If his overall outing wasn’t enough, LaVine offered another one to the United Center crowd after his final bucket of the evening, an and-one finish through Collin Sexton with 16 seconds remaining to put him over 40 points and the Bulls ahead by four.

What did he say?

“You want the explicit version or the PG-13?” LaVine said with a chuckle. “This my stuff.” 

Continuing to stuff stat sheets, as he has been, is going to make All-Star jurors’ lives that much more difficult.

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Bulls Outsiders Podcast: LaVine makes All-Star statement in win over Cavs

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NBC SPORTS CHICAGO

Bulls Outsiders Podcast: LaVine makes All-Star statement in win over Cavs

On this edition of the Bulls Outsiders podcast, Matt Peck, David Watson, and John Sabine react to the Bulls 118-116 win over the Cavs.

1:00        On Zach LaVine and his 42 point effort

2:00        Big Dave does LaVine highlites

4:20        Viewer comment on how much of a boost LaVine will get to his All-Star bid

7:30        On the new lineup in the 4th quarter

8:20        Viewer question on LaVine being the #1 option on a winning team

11:30     Viewer comment on if LaVine can lead Bulls into playoffs

14:45     Viewer comment on Markkanen in the 2nd half

16:30     On Boylen’s timeout usage at the end of the game

18:45     Breaking news: Kendall Gill wants to know if Matt Peck saw what Derrick Rose did tonight

21:45     Viewer comment on Bulls waking up in the 4th quarter

23:30     Viewer comment on if Thibs was coaching Kris Dunn

24:20     On Olympic swimmer Ryan Held wearing a Ryan Arcidiacono rookie jersey

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below:

Bulls Outsiders

Subscribe:

Attention Dish and Sling customers! You have lost your Bulls games on NBC Sports Chicago. To switch providers, visit mysportschicago.com.

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.