Coby White is proving other teams' low interest in Zach LaVine to be correct
they can be bad with him, or bad without him and a lot more entertaining
As a bad team, the Bulls chance at good offense is amping up the variance by launching a ton of three point attempts. And other than threes, the Pelicans played them fairly evenly. But while the Pelicans went a more-typically-Bullsian 8-25 from distance, the Bulls put up 40 attempts and hit 42.5% of them.
Coby White played 40 minutes, had 6 assists and perhaps most impressively hoisted 13 three point attempts.
While they have started together for the whole season, it’s reasonable to analyze that White is filling the vacuum previously sucked by Zach “sad sack Zach” LaVine.
LaVine is a better shooter than White. But, as we know, LaVine has a terminal case of Kobe-brain, untreated by ineffectual coaching, and prefers to survey when receiving the ball, usually towards a less valuable and more difficult shot attempt.
How many times has LaVine put up 13 threes? This year, only once in the 51-point game in Detroit, which I need not remind everyone came with zero assists and a loss. LaVine has put up 13 threes in only four games over the prior two seasons, reaching 6 assists two of those games.
Coby, in contrast, has Coby-brain. He plays faster than LaVine, both when bringing the ball up and when making shoot/drive/pass decisions when he receives the ball in the half-court offense. It leads to more turnovers, sure, but with more actual ball movement that is what can happen.
From Drew Stevens of TheBigs:
Their pace hasn’t been materially different the past two games. But the Bulls have made, on average, 58.6 more passes on offense, while shooting almost 5% better from the arc and 6% better overall.
Stevens then mentions the defense, which before the last two games posted a 116.0 rating and in the last two games that’s down to 111.6.
We all know LaVine is not a good defender, never has been (despite what he semi-successfully sold at some points over the past three years), and being in checked-out mode this year has only made him worse.
LaVine’s absence also means more minutes sopped up by much better backcourt defenders like Ayo and Carter (Patrick Williams plays more as well).
I can’t ethically make new proclamations over two games. Coby White is probably a bottom-10 starting point guard that is on a hot shooting streak, and this team is barely above dead even if they keep the win streak going with a soft upcoming schedule.
But we can use this small sample size evidence to further cement prior theories: Zach LaVine isn’t that good, and the trade return for him is not that important. The rest of the league already knew this, and though it’s bad for business the team on the court is only further proving it.