Sunday, January 16, 2022

Billy Donovan’s recent comments about Coby White could go either way

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When a head coach refers to a player as a “winning player” it’s a compliment, but depending on the situation it can be the precursor to a separation between player and team.

Coby White has played excellent basketball for the last 12 games. During this time, he shoots 46% from three-point range. He has proven he can be effective as a starter and substitute, which is key because when the team is full his ideal role is as a prolific sixth man.

Perhaps most importantly, White has improved about as much as any guard I’ve seen on the defensive. It’s hard to remember a guard White’s age who has gone from being a generally poor defender to what I would currently consider above average.

Whether it’s for on-screen navigation, or just staying in front of top-flight NBA guards, or showing a strong off-post effort when caught against a taller offensive player, White’s improvement was noticeable.

That’s one of the main reasons Chicago Bulls head coach Billy Donovan called White a “winning player” in a recent post-game press conference.

He earned the label, but was this an indication that the bulls are sticking with White, whose name has featured frequently in trade rumors with this and other publications, or a statement recognizing his potential value if Chicago took the deduction for a deal pushes?

If White continues to play at the level he was in December and so far in January, he can undoubtedly be a great addition to the Bulls’ postseason. White’s improved shooting, defense and decision making can fit into any team’s mix.

The Bulls have three guards ahead of them in the pecking order in Zach LaVine, Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso, but as they can all play multiple roles in backcourt, it’s proven they can all work together. Hopefully, when Caruso returns next week, the Bulls will get a good sense of what their overall backcourt rotation will be like.

In all honesty, you’re going to have a hard time finding a team with a better foursome of guards to throw at an opponent.

With the way White has been playing lately and his age (21), the bulls’ young guard has increased his trading value. White’s professional attitude and competitiveness are another asset when a team considers him.

The Bulls could use white to fill their power forward spot vacated by Patrick Williams’ injury. The decision to swap White should depend on the team’s belief in William’s ability to return this season.

If Chicago thinks Williams can be back just before the postseason, perhaps to play 8-10 games before the playoffs, the need to trade whites isn’t so great. Getting Williams back in late March or mid-April could be tantamount to a late-season trade, except the bulls wouldn’t have to divest an asset like White.

That would also keep the Bulls stocked with talented youngsters whose development can take the sting out of losing draft picks to attract the likes of Nikola Vucevic and DeMar DeRozan.

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