Coby White wants you to believe he’s a point guard. And the Chicago Bulls have made it clear they will prioritise a point guard this offseason.
So linking White and Chicago is obvious.
And if they select him, the projected starting lineup entering year three of the rebuild will theoretically be complete. Of course, that is if you believe White is worthy of carrying the vaunted “point guard of the future” moniker that so many have had heaped upon them over the years.
Sure, this is a rebuild, but: handing over starting point guard duties to a 19-year-old with limited experience in running an offense is too simplistic. In isolation it may make sense, but factoring in a roster which already features too many inexperienced projects reliant on the success of others makes an obvious draft pick rapidly problematic.
That may seem an overzealous opinion to offer before White is even on the team. But think about what a prototypical backcourt partner for Zach LaVine should be: a long, defensive-minded guard who possesses an ability to combat varying-sized wings, is comfortable launching catch-and-shoot jumpers, and can operate as a secondary offensive creator.
Finding a young player who can do all that is a challenge. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander of the Clippers projects to be exactly that. White does not.
To his credit, despite being a score-first guard who only shot 35.3 percent from three during his freshman season, White ranked in the 93rd percentile in catch-and-shoot 3-point makes. His speed and ability to score in transition would also be a boon for a Bulls team who desperately must seek out easier avenues to score efficiently (assuming coach Jim Boylen allows the team to run.) Measuring in at 6-foot-5 with shoes, White has the necessary height to reasonably play across multiple positions in the backcourt, on or off the ball.
But White’s combine-measured 6-foot-5 wingspan isn’t ideal for a guard who stands the same height, especially when projecting defensive ability. Perhaps White’s quickness and lateral speed will be enough for him to recover and contest shots that his lack of length would otherwise limit. Still, despite some obvious physical advantages, it’s easy to posit a scenario where a White and LaVine tandem is one that’s actively exploited, particularly in pick-and-roll. Teams will be hunting for options to switch and isolate their elite perimeter talent onto the slender frames of either guard.
The problems don’t end there. As much as White wants us to believe he is a point guard, he does a better job of creating offense for himself than others. That matters because of Zach LaVine’s ball-dominant ways, but also due to who the Bulls selected at No. 7 in their previous two drafts: Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr. The Bulls should be aiming for more of a playmaker at the position.
LaVine undeniably made strides in that area. Still, as the centerpiece of an offense, his creation skills aren’t remotely on par with other elite guards cast in a similar role. White, too, remains a young guard learning how to run a halfcourt offense, a skill that typically takes years to develop. So having both only compounds the matter, specifically for Markkanen and Carter. This is something Bulls can’t afford.
It isn’t looking likely that White will even be available to the Bulls. Reportedly, a team ahead of the Bulls has promised to draft him inside the top-six. But promises can quickly change, especially considering several teams ahead of the Bulls may use their selection in a blockbuster trade. But if White is still there, I expect the Bulls to draft him,
White can be good. He probably will. But the seemingly obvious fit White had in Chicago is not so conclusive. That isn’t to say to the Bulls should only be drafting for need. But if they take White as the best player available, while it makes sense, it won’t necessarily solve the point guard problem.