Coby White is trying to make the post-all-star-break Bulls interesting.
Back-to-back 33 point performances on consecutive nights. Then he followed that up with a 35-point outburst against a top-ten defense (by defensive rating) in the Oklahoma City Thunder.
He’s entered historic territory.
No, Coby White isn’t going to average 30 points for the rest of the season. However, what this three game hot stretch has shown us is that White has not only the chops to become a great scorer, but an efficient one as well.
The Shot profile has been beautiful
In this streak, Coby White is 6-for-9 on midrange shots. So, just nine out of the 61 shots he’s taken in these games were from midrange (15 percent).
Most importantly though, his shot profile during these three games has been nearly identical to his shot profile throughout the season.
According to NBA.com, just under 14 percent of his shot attempts this season have come from midrange distance. Of course these types of shots aren’t bad in all circumstances and guys who have elite midrange games definitely should use it to add that additional dimension. But, White on the season is 30 percent from this range so he definitely doesn’t fall in this category.
Whether it’s coincidence or a concerted effort to do so, White stays away from the shots he doesn’t shoot efficiently. His shot profile is already right where you want it: opting for 3-point field goals and paint looks over long twos which he is bad at anyways.
All this suggests that his most efficient scoring days are ahead of him. He’s already shooting efficient shots, he’s just not making everything yet. His finishing ability at the rim will improve, as will his 3-point shot. Remember, he’s 20 years old in his first NBA season.
Admittedly, his raw shooting numbers this season aren’t great. But rookies struggling with efficiency isn’t anything new either.
Here is a comparison of his rookie numbers to other really good NBA microwave scorers during their first NBA campaigns.
Effective Field Goal Percentage Rookie Year (per BasketballReference.com):
Coby White: 47.3 percent
Jamal Crawford: 41.9 percent
Ben Gordon: 47.4 percent
Lou Williams: 46.2 percent
Zach LaVine: 46.5 percent
All four of these guys had worse shooting numbers than White in their rookie years. All four of them developed into some of the best scorers in the NBA during their respective peaks.
White is on track to follow suit. His shot profile and the fact that he’s been more efficient than these guys were in their rookie seasons suggests he has what it takes to harness that rare combination of microwave scoring and efficiency.
LaVine and White Will Make Each Other Better
In the last three games, White has had a partner in crime.
Zach LaVine scored 20, 32, then 41 in the three games that coincided with White’s offensive surge.
In those three games, those two have had a 119.4 offensive rating and a 10.4 net rating when they shared the floor together (per NBA.com). It’s a tough task for defenses to lock in on stopping a hot LaVine and a hot White simultaneously.
No, it hasn’t always been pretty when they’ve shared the floor together particularly on the defensive end. But, they are currently in this good three-game stretch and in eight February games lineups have a 60.5 percent effective field goal percentage when they are playing together (per NBA.com) suggesting their combined offensive prowess is opening up good looks for each other and their teammates.
Zach LaVine is getting better himself and as teams continue to go to great lengths to stop him, that should open up more open shots for White.
Untapped Potential in Transition
There’s an area offensively that White can be really good in that he hasn’t really tapped into yet during his time with the Bulls.
This is a little bit subjective because definitions of what constitutes a transition bucket can vary.
But, by my count only 16 of 101 points in those three games were in transition. Most of his production during the last three games were in the halfcourt which is consistent with what he has done all season. On the season, he’s in the 46th percentile in points per possession in transition (per NBA.com).
Lightning quick with good handles, White should be able to exploit defenses’ mistakes or lackadaisical efforts getting back on defense and turn them into easy buckets in transition.
So far he hasn’t done that. But again, he’s 20 years old and has all the physical tools to be a menace in transition. Buckets in transition are usually one of the more efficient ways to score, so once he begins to capitalize on these opportunities his game becomes that much more efficient.
Given the current state of the Bulls, it’s ludicrous that White isn’t getting starts.
But long term, if the Bulls can transform themselves into a contender White projects as a sixth man, microwave scorer in the mold of a Lou Williams and Jamal Crawford.
Given what he’s shown so far in his rookie season he has a chance to differentiate himself among the throng of NBA microwave scorers by combining that scoring ability with solid efficiency.