Bulls

Bulls player preview: Coby White playing with house money

Bulls player preview: Coby White playing with house money

NBC Sports Chicago will preview a different Bulls player every weekday leading up to the start of training camp in late September.

Previous reviews: Lauri Markkanen | Ryan Arcidiacono | Antonio Blakeney

How last year went

Last year went better than White ever could have expected. He was named North Carolina’s starter, appeared in 35 games and became a top-10 draft pick in the process. White was a raw five-star prospect who admitted he didn’t believe he’d be a one-and-done prospect. But a strong campaign with the Tar Heels – combined with a weaker draft class – helped him make the decision. His stock rose throughout the process, and many had him pegged going No. 6 to Phoenix.

Ultimately the Bulls stayed at No. 7 and had White fall into their laps, giving them who they hope to be the point guard of the future.

Expectations for this year’s role

The Bulls don’t need White to be the instant contributor Wendell Carter and Lauri Markkanen were as rookies. They love White’s game, but they’ll also love it in 2022 and 2023. There’s a reason that, even after using the seventh pick on White, they signed Tomas Satoransky on Day 2 of free agency, gave Ryan Arcidiacono $9 million and held on (for now) to Kris Dunn.

White has a steep, steep learning curve ahead of him. He doesn’t need to be a true point guard to succeed, but he still needs to have point guard traits. At 19 years old and just 35 games of collegiate experience at the position under his belt, he has a long way to go.

He’s behind Satoransky and Dunn on the depth chart right now. He’s probably even with Arcidiacono, a Boylen favorite. Expectations should be tempered. If the Bulls suffer another tanking season, White could log serious minutes in March and April. But the key here is they don’t need him to. If Dunn is moved at some point, White would have the opportunity to man the second unit or playing alongside Arcidiacono off the ball. This is house money for the Bulls. Whatever White can contribute, that’s great. If not, they’re deep at the position to make up for the redshirt year.

Where he excels

Speed kills, and White has plenty of it. It’s a shame White didn’t participate in any of the combine drills, because he would have come close to breaking records. He’s that fast. And that’s great news for a Bulls offense that crawled under Jim Boylen. A dedication to running off misses and shooting more 3-pointers makes White a perfect fit for this “new” Bulls offense.

He’s also the first Bulls point guard with legitimate 3-point range since Nate Robinson. Get your Summer League jokes out now – he went 3 of 30 in five Vegas games – but White can shoot it. He shot 35.3% from beyond the arc at North Carolina, including an eight-game stretch late in the season in which he shot 37.5% on 8.0 triple attempts per game. He’s comfortable shooting off the dribble and is elite off the catch-and-shoot, which could come in handy if and when he sees minutes with ball-dominant Zach LaVine.

Where he needs work

Fast doesn’t always mean good. Yes, White turned some heads with his transition moves. But the numbers tell a different story. He ranked in just the 41st percentile nationally in points per possession in transition, and his 19.1% turnover rate was much higher than it should have been on those possessions.

And that’s sort of the crux with White. He’s 19 years old and has played point guard for one year. He was a scoring shooting guard all the way up through high school and is just now learning to play with the ball in his hands. He had just a 24.2% assist rate and, despite North Carolina playing one of the fastest offenses in the country, averaged just 4.1 assists. He struggles in pick-and-roll action simply because he hasn’t done it often (he rarely did it with the Tar Heels, and he was a mixed bag in Las Vegas).

As much as White will need to improve in transition, the bigger key will be learning when to play fast and when to play slow. He admitted that when speaking with reporters after draft day.

Point guard in the NBA is a steep learning curve. White will have his work cut out for him to make an impact as a rookie because of it, but the Bulls didn’t draft White with 2019-20 in mind.

Best case/worst case

In a best-case scenario, White learns quickly and uses instinct to become a scoring lead guard on the Bulls’ second unit. The Bulls’ reserves were one of the worst groups a year ago, so having a scoring punch like White would go a long way. The Bulls could deploy White to change the pace of the game, score a few quick buckets and give defenses a different look from what they’d see with Dunn or Arcidiacono.

Worst-case is White uses his rookie season as a redshirt. Again, that’s not an issue long-term but it’d be tough for a 22-win team from a year ago to get next-to-nothing out of its top-10 pick.

One key stat

There’s really no way to spin White’s ugly outside shooting numbers during the Las Vegas Summer League. But let's try. His 3 of 30 shooting was bad, and even worse when considering he hit back-to-back triples in about a 25-second span in one of his five games.

Obviously no one is cooling on White after five Summer League games that routinely lack structure and efficiency. He’s a good shooter, and 35 games in Raleigh proved as much. But we can take it a step further and show that high draft picks – specifically point guards – struggle with their outside shots in Vegas.

https://twitter.com/markstrot/status/1150771881152323585

Whether it’s the new ball, the added range, learning to play faster with better athletes on the floor, there’s real correlation between young point guards and missing their triples. Would it have been nice if White shot better in Sin City? Sure. Does it matter? Not in the least.

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NBCA, Adam Silver speak out following George Floyd’s death and recent protests

NBCA, Adam Silver speak out following George Floyd’s death and recent protests

The National Basketball Coaches Association (NBCA hereafter) and commissioner Adam Silver recently joined the chorus of voices speaking out in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death.

A statement from the NBCA, signed by 33 coaches and almost 180 assistant coaches, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports:

 

The statement pinpoints “police brutality, racial profiling and the weaponization of racism” as “shameful, inhuman and intolerable.”

And their call for “positive change” will reportedly be followed by some action. The NBCA has also formed a “committee on racial injustice and reform to pursue solutions within NBA cities”  Wojnarowski reports, which will be comprised of at least Gregg Popovich, Steve Kerr, Lloyd Pierce, David Fizdale, Stan Van Gundy, Doc Rivers, JB Bickerstaff and Quin Snyder.

Already, many in the NBA community have acted to protest systemic racism and police brutality in the wake of Floyd’s death. Stephen Jackson, Karl-Anthony Towns and Josh Okogie demonstrated with many in Minneapolis. Jaylen Brown drove 15 hours from Boston to lead a peaceful march in Atlanta that also featured Malcolm Brogdon. Lonnie Walker aided in clean-up efforts after a night of protests in San Antonio. The list goes on from there.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver wrote in an internal memo to NBA employees obtained by ESPN that he was “heartened” by those “speaking out to demand justice, urging peaceful protest and working for meaningful change.” Silver also called for introspection and promised the NBA will “continue its efforts to promote inclusion and bridge divides through collective action, civic engagement, candid dialogue and support for organizations working towards justice and equality.” He expressed condolences to the Floyd family, outrage over the wrongful deaths of Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery and an obligation to not ignore the issues of “racism, police brutality and racial injustice.”

As of this writing, 26 of 30 NBA teams have issued statements on Floyd’s passing, either as entities or through organization spokespeople, ranging from executives to coaches. Hopefully, the words of many lead to action — and that action to appreciable change.

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Dennis Rodman asks looters to stop, protest George Floyd killing peacefully

rodman_gronk.jpg
USA Today

Dennis Rodman asks looters to stop, protest George Floyd killing peacefully

Dennis Rodman isn’t sugarcoating things as he calls on looters to stop the destruction across the country, and protest peacefully.

“Please, please understand we have to live together,” Rodman said in a video on TMZ. “We’re human beings. We’re not f---ing animals, we’re human beings.”

Rodman likened the protests going on today to the Los Angeles riots in 1992, and said younger generations may not have a full appreciation for how things spiraled out of control back then.

“It’s a bad situation and I think we should all understand the fact that there’s a new generation,” Rodman said in the video. “People my age all knew about the Rodney King thing, and things start to happen, people looting, setting fires, damaging people’s homes, businesses and stuff like that. Now we have this incident.

“I think someone needs to come out and say, ‘Hey guys, why are we looting? Why are we stealing? Why are we creating more issues, more problems, stuff like that?’”

Rodman elaborated that he believes these latest protests across the nation are a symptom of a larger problem, and that the country needs to address the underlying issues.

“Let’s get to the head of what’s really going on,” Rodman said. “This is a bad, bad situation. If you’re going to protest, protest in the right way. You don’t have to go and burn down things, steal things… and stuff like that.

“We’ve got enough issues with the COVID virus right now. We’ve got enough issues.”

Finally, Rodman made an emotional appeal for people to come together, not create an even wider divide.

“Why are we doing this? Why are we hurting each other again? Why not just help each other, hold each other's hands and try to solve the problem? We didn’t create this problem, but guess what, we can help. Especially the new generation, the 24/7 generation, help us as older individuals to understand this. Don’t add to it. Do not add to it. Help us, and help everybody right now.”

RELATED: Michael Jordan issues statement of solidarity in wake of George Floyd's death

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