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Here at CHGO, we’re kicking off the Bulls summer with evaluations of each individual player’s season.
Today, we’re looking into an up and down season from Coby White.
Box stats per game:
- 12.7 points
- 3.0 rebounds
- 2.9 assists
- 0.5 steals
- 0.2 blocks
- 49.1 percent on 2- point field goals (career-high)
- 38.5 percent on 3-point field goals (career-high)
- 85.7 percent on free throws
- 56.4 true shooting percentage (career-high)
These overall advanced stats are another piece of the puzzle to add context when evaluating players. Check out this article to learn more about each metric.
White had to shift from a 31.2 minute per night starting point guard last season to 27.5 minutes and 19.8 usage backup in 2021-22. As a result, most of his per game stats took a hit, but he put together his most efficient scoring season of his young career.
That said, White’s streakiness throughout the season is the story of his career. After missing the first 13 games of the season, White returned from his shoulder injury and played horribly. He put together a solid stretch from late December to the All-Star break, coinciding with a slew of injuries that vaulted his minutes and role back to starting caliber. From All-Star to the end of the season and through the playoffs, White regressed again to effectively unplayable.
These stretches of frigid to fire are the story of White’s career. Though his averages land in the middle, the unreliability makes it hard to trust him in important moments. His role seemingly has a huge impact on his ability to produce, and though his terrible defense (his -2.2 defensive EPM ranks in the sixth percentile of the entire NBA) but can sometimes be neutralized how hot shooting, if his offense isn’t rolling he really hurts the team.
Because this was his third season and the Bulls invested a high draft pick in him, they simply needed more from White. With all the injuries and because the Bulls lack scoring power, White had a real opportunity to step into a role that makes sense for his skillset and shine.
He is a talented scorer and had the opportunity to thrive in a role taylor made for his skillet.
He didn’t and that makes his future with the Bulls pretty hazy.
White’s future with the Bulls is among the most difficult to discern. Following another year of limited growth, the Bulls have some big decisions to make when it comes to White. The Bulls are playing a precarious game of trying to win now with veterans while developing young talent along the way. In order for that to work, the young talent needs to prove they can step up and provide value in important moments, and White was not able to do that in the playoffs.
The Bulls have picked up their team option for White’s $7.4 million in the fourth year of his contract. He is extension eligible for a 25 percent of the cap max contract worth $186 million over five years. He’s clearly not getting that money. More likely, the Bulls will try to come to an agreement on a much smaller deal for White or let him play on his $9.9 million qualifying offer in 2023-24 and let another team bid on him in restricted free agency, similar to what the Bulls front office pulled off with Lauri Markkanen.
Because he is still only 21 and an upcoming restricted free agent who has shown serious scoring flashes, White still has some value. Perhaps the most prudent plan would be to move him to another team who believes they can turn him into a player. Of course, it’s just a matter of finding that team and trying to extract value in return.
Aside from Zach LaVine, White is the only holdover from the John Paxson-Gar Forman regime. While it’s always difficult to cash in (or cash out depending on how you look at it) on talented young players, White will have one more opportunity to establish himself with the Bulls, barring a trade.
If he can improve his defensive awareness, shooting consistency and become a reliable bench scorer, he could earn himself a longer-term deal with the Bulls.
If not, he’ll have to try to do it with another team.
- Nikola Vucevic
- DeMar DeRozan
- Lonzo Ball
- Zach LaVine
- Alex Caruso
- Patrick Williams, Derrick Jones Jr. and Javonte Green
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