Now don’t I look silly after predicting this stretch of Bulls games while undermanned would be ‘grotesque’! All they had to do was have a record-breaking shooting night to get a quality and entertaining victory.
The starting backcourt led it, with Zach LaVine’s leap this year continuing right out the gate in this game. It was far more surprising to see Coby White supplement the offense to this degree. White has had a miserable season as the Bulls starting point guard, and was seemingly regressing by the game with a (hopefully) rock-bottom performance against the Wizards where he was outplayed by Raul Neto.
Coby’s defense is still abysmal, and ultimately a major part of discussing his viability as a core piece. But he can shoot the ball, and so it was nice to see that actually backed up in action after even that part of his game went south recently.
Old pal Stephen Noh wrote up the difference in Coby’s game last night: being off the ball.
White took only four total dribbles on his 10 made field goals.
That performance is far from an anomaly. White is shooting a solid 37.8 percent on catch-and-shoot 3-pointers, and only 31.8 percent on his pull-up attempts.
The contrast in his scoring efficiency is even more stark when you break down his scoring by the number of dribbles he takes before shooting. He’s an extremely dangerous player on his zero dribble shots. As he starts to dribble, his percentages become horrific.
This is a real dilemma of production over development. If the goal is to make Coby White a more valuable player by expanding his game towards more of a playmaker, it’s backfiring if not only is he struggling at that new skill, but it makes his established skills worse.
It’s evaluation season, but we kind of knew already that Coby White can shoot. I suppose it’s helpful to get reminders once in a while. But I don’t know what Billy Donovan can do to get White off the ball more that doesn’t give up on the point guard of the future experiment. Benching him may actually have the adverse effect on White’s game, though he’d go against worse defenses it would put him on the ball a lot since the Bulls don’t have a backup point guard either.
It really just has to be worked out with Zach LaVine in the starting lineup, as LaVine is the actual cornerstone of the backcourt and you have to try to get White to track better than a bench gunner. The offense can lean into LaVine’s playmaking more to help White, but this whole process was meant to do the opposite.