LAS VEGAS — The early returns of Coby White’s Summer League performance have been as they are for most young point guards—some tantalizing flashes, a lot of growing pains.
White, the Bulls’ No. 7 overall pick in last month’s draft, has impressed with his speed and court vision. His shooting has been another story — in Sunday’s loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers, he scored 15 points on 16 shots, following up Friday’s win over the Los Angeles Lakers in which he scored 17 points on 18 shots.
White has shot 0-for-11 from three-point range in the two games, after shooting a respectable 35.3 percent from deep in his freshman season at North Carolina.
“I was shooting it the same as I was in college,” White said Sunday evening. “I just can't get anything to fall right now.”
White won’t be expected to start from day one on a Bulls team that has aspirations of making the postseason again after two years in the lottery. The team officially signed Tomas Satoransky to a three-year, $30 million deal on Sunday, as well as re-signing backup point guard Ryan Arcidiacono to a three-year, $9 million contract. Kris Dunn, one of the centerpieces of 2017’s Jimmy Butler trade, is still on the roster after a disappointing first two seasons in Chicago. He could be moved by the start of training camp; even if he is, there will be stiff competition for White to earn minutes early on.
His shot starting to fall will help his case significantly.
“I think it’s an adjustment,” said Nate Loenser, the head coach of the Bulls’ Summer League team. “You cannot get too caught up in it yet. The shot looks good for the most part. Shot selection, I know coach [Jim] Boylen is watching film with him a lot, so obviously he wants to do well, he wants to take shots. I thought he took good shots Friday. There are always going to be a few that are going to be questionable, but we want him to be aggressive. So you can’t underestimate the first two [games] here. You are playing a different ball, different line, just a different situation,, He’s got a good-looking shot. He can knock down shots.I think that is going to come with more and more reps.”
The Bulls envision White helping to guide the team as it looks to play more uptempo next season than it did in 2018-19. He looked out-of-control at times on Sunday, turning the ball over seven times to go along with his poor shooting performance.
White insists that recklessness is not a side effect of the change of pace from the college game to the pro game.
“I think it’s just the fact I always play fast and always play up-tempo,” White said. “I don’t think the change of speed will affect me. I just made some poor decisions. “
That’s what Summer League is for — for young players to feel out the next level of competition and work through their mistakes in a relatively low-stakes environment. The Bulls have big plans for White, but he has a lot of work to do before he gets there.
“I'm still trying to become a better decision-maker on the court,” White said. “I'm trying to become a better point guard. So it's all about continuing to learn and get better.”