Behold the confidence of Coby White.
He can shoot an airball. He can swish a 3-pointer. He can go 4-for-26 over a four-game span or sink a record seven 3-pointers in a quarter, both of which he has done this season.
Whatever the case, the rookie always thinks the next shot is going in.
“That’s the mindset you have to have,” White said Saturday. “That’s the mindset I’ve always had.”
Mind you, White spoke these words following shootaround at a suburban Detroit high school, hours before he snapped out of his latest slump. White sank five 3-pointers and scored 19 points in 17 minutes, 30 seconds as the Bulls downed the Pistons, his first double-figure scoring game since Dec. 11.
“He’s a great spot shooter,” said Zach LaVine, who knows a little something about the subject. “He’s been streaking. I’ve been trying to stay on him and keeping his head right. I remember being in that position, too, where I have a game where I have 27 (points) and the next game I didn’t score and I’m like, ‘What the hell is going on?’ So keep your head right.
“He’s extremely talented. He’s done things in this league already that people haven’t done. We understand we need him and he’s a big part of this team. For him to be aggressive and play his game, that’s what got him here and he’ll continue to flourish doing that.”
White shifted back to playing more off the ball Saturday night, a position he admittedly is more comfortable in at this stage of his career. Coach Jim Boylen has shied away from placing labels on his rookie guard but publicly acknowledged on Dec. 8 that he and his staff had moved White to more of an on-the-ball, playmaking role.
Coincidence or not, White shot below 50 percent in six of seven games, including four straight games making just one field goal.
“The coaching staff believes in me. So do my teammates. They tell me to keep shooting,” White said. “I’m a rookie. I’m only 19. I don’t use that as an excuse. But they always believe me. You’re going to go through slumps. It’s basketball. It’s how you react to it.”
Boylen and his staff also are working with White to learn he can impact games even when his shot isn’t falling. Whether it’s defense, rebounding or making plays for others, they’re challenging him to be a more complete player.
But it’s obvious that White’s biggest impact is shotmaking. And even though he didn’t need to see shots go down to help his confidence, he understood their importance when they did.
“The main thing for me is having the same shot every time, trusting in that shot,” White said. “I feel like a lot of it is mental. I need to make sure to do my same routine.”
White now has 10 games with 3 or more 3-pointers, tied with Cameron Johnson for second-most among rookies. Kendrick Nunn has 11 such games and leads White 63-58 for most overall 3-pointers in the rookie class.
White isn’t concerned with such numbers.
“I’m just focused on doing what I do best to try to help us win,” he said.
Attention Dish and Sling customers! You have lost your Bulls games on NBC Sports Chicago. To switch providers, visit mysportschicago.com.