The second-year player was back in the starting lineup on Friday, filling in for an ill Tomas Satoransky, and while White played well in the opening quarter, they need him to string solid games together down the stretch.
Billy Donovan doesn’t want his second-year guard singled out.
That’s why the Bulls coach is willing to take a few bullets.
But it’s beyond that for Coby White at this point.
The eye test in watching White play since he was demoted from his starting point guard spot to a reserve role has been bad enough. The numbers only add to the ugliness.
In White’s first 36 games as a starter this season, he averaged 16.1 points, 4.9 rebounds and five assists per game, while shooting 42% from the field and 36% from three-point range, with a 22.6 usage rate percentage. In his 15 games coming off the bench, of course the minutes were close to down eight minutes per game, but he dropped to 9.7 points, 2.5 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game, while shooting 39% from the field and 27% from three, with a very similar usage rate percentage at 21.6.
White, who did get the start for an ill Tomas Satoransky on Friday, has looked completely lost at times, seemingly confused on what he is coming off the bench – a scorer or facilitator.
Donovan gave his explanation of why, and said life changed for most of his roster when the Bulls added five new players at the Mar. 25 trade deadline.
“In fairness to Coby or Lauri [Markkanen] or Thad [Young] or any of the guys that were here before the trade happened, things changed,’’ Donovan said. “And I think when change happens, change is always difficult, change is always hard, and those guys’ attitude, their work ethic has been great, but they’re trying to find – as I am as a coach trying to help them – of how we’ve got to play, creating an identity.
“We’ve had to do some things differently to take advantage of the personnel.’’
Agreed that White has struggled since that trade, entering Friday with three games of six points or less over his last seven appearances.
However, he’s had issues with inconsistencies since the season tipped off, and they seemed to worsen when he was benched in favor of Satoransky after the All-Star Break.
With just 17 regular season games left, Donovan is still holding out hope that White finds what he’s looking for, and the entire team can benefit from it.
There were some hopeful signs against Memphis, especially with White scoring 11 first-quarter points and actually successful on a few pick-and-roll moments with Nikola Vucevic. The problem with White is there have been hopeful moments numerous times this season, but not enough consistency and balance in his game.
“I think that’s what he’s trying to do – find that balance between himself and the other guys,’’ Donovan said. “Whether it’s taking care of the ball or shot selection or defense, find that balance.’’
Another man down
Losing Zach LaVine in the league’s coronavirus health and safety protocol was bad enough, but then Satoransky started dealing with a non-coronavirus illness on Thursday evening, and that’s why the Bulls were down two starters against the Grizzlies.
With a back-to-back against the Cavaliers on Saturday, Donovan had no guess if Satoransky would be back.
“We’ll have a better feel probably [Saturday], just to see where he’s at physically,’’ Donovan said of the veteran. “But he wasn’t in a position to even suit up and play [against Memphis].’’