Coby White hit rock bottom nearly two weeks ago with a dreadful first half against the Hawks in which he got torched by Trae Young and couldn’t hit a shot. Aside from a few hot shooting games, White had really struggled to start this season coming off shoulder surgery and then dealing with COVID-19. While those were reasonable excuses for his struggles, the third-year guard often looked really bad and lost, and it had me wondering aloud if rookie Ayo Dosunmu was already better than him.
Well, basically ever since that bad first half, White has totally flipped the narrative. He played well in that second half against the Hawks and has kept killing it. He’s also doing more than just making it rain from 3-point range, though him finding his stroke again is obviously a huge part of his game.
White was terrific again in the Bulls’ 130-122 victory over the Wizards. He and Ayo Dosunmu teamed up to play nearly perfect basketball off the bench, combining for 39 points on a ridiculous 14-of-17 from the field and 7-of-8 from 3. White had 21 points of those points on 7-of-8 shooting and 4-of-4 from 3.
Including that first Hawks game, White is now averaging 18.7 points and 4.3 assists while shooting 56.5% overall and 44.9% from 3-point range over the last six contests. White has seen an increased role with Lonzo Ball out until the Magic game and Alex Caruso out this entire time, and the Bulls have needed every bit of this good version of him to keep this nine-game winning streak alive. He was especially crucial in the DeMar DeRozan buzzer-beater games, as well as the ugly Magic win.
Even aside from the hot 3-point shooting, it’s so obvious the (*Stacey King voice*) confidence White is playing with when he’s doing this kind of stuff off the dribble:
Really liked this pass from Coby tonight. pic.twitter.com/Sdu4wPDkH9— Larry Golden (@_LarroHoops) December 30, 2021
The 12-assist game against the Hawks that first clip is from I thought was White’s best passing game of his career. 13 assists is his career high, but he was making a number of advanced reads in that win over the Hawks, seemingly out of nowhere. Kevin Ferrigan also recently noted that White was being more aggressive driving to the basket, and that second clip was an absolutely beautiful attack of a closeout and finish after the Eurostep. That last one was another good example of calmly attacking the closeout and tossing up a nifty giant killer to beat the buzzer.
White has also at least been battling on defense. He still has his flaws on that end of the court and likely always will, but he has made a few key defensive plays during this winning streak and is not the total sieve he was in past seasons.
Now, we’ve seen White go through really hot stretches before. He has always been streaky and will likely always have a bit of streakiness to him. But this feels a bit more legit now that he’s making so many big plays to help win a lot of games. Ferrigan did a nice thread showing why this stretch may be for real:
Did a quick high-level look at Coby White's production pre-and-post his COVID absence, using @Neil_Paine's SPM formula (link: https://t.co/qVWTybqTYn). Incidentally Coby's return has coincided exactly with the Bulls 9 game win streak. pic.twitter.com/npLfA2ph7n— Listen and subscribe to @DennisPodman (@NBACouchside) January 8, 2022
If this is truly closer to the real version of Coby White the Bulls are going to get, it’s a game-changer and will have an impact on how the front office approaches the trade deadline. Once an obvious trade candidate, White is making his case to stick around. The Bulls have a clear need for his scoring off the bench, so he should continue having a big role even when Caruso comes back, as long as he keeps playing like this.