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Coby White's shooting has transformed the Chicago Bulls

Will Gottlieb Avatar
December 3, 2023

For the first time this year, the Chicago Bulls are on a two-game winning streak.

Following their Thursday night victory over Milwaukee, they follow up with a win against the New Orleans Pelicans 124-118 at home on Saturday night. Back-t0-back 120+ point nights. Back-to-back 30+ assist games. Back-to-back 37+ three point attempt games.

Back-to-back wins.

“Now we need to get back-to-back-to-back wins,” DeMar DeRozan insisted after the game.

DeRozan chipped in an efficient 24 points on 10-of-18 shooting, but was dominant as a facilitator. He had 10 assists to two turnovers. The Bulls ruthlessly targeted the Pelicans smaller defenders, forcing them to switch and double the ball. DeRozan was quick on the kickout and the Bulls were playing with much better pace and tempo, moving the ball around the perimeter and finding open shooters.

The primary beneficiary was Coby White, who scored 31 points (28 in the second half) on 10-of-17 shooting, 8-of-13 threes. He also added nine rebounds and six assists.

“He was ultra-aggressive, ultra-confident, decisive,” DeRozan said of White. “You know, he was big, you know, Cob was Cob tonight. Without him tonight, I don’t think we feed off his energy, we don’t get the win without him.”

White was excellent defensively. He heroically took a charge from Zion Williamson. He had a late-game steal that led to a clutch three from Torrey Craig. He hustled for 40 minutes, executed rotations and generated some open looks, including a game-sealing lob to Patrick Williams.

But of course, the shooting grabs the headlines.

Three of DeRozan’s assists went to White for three-pointers, and all of them were products of the Bulls quickly getting into their action, White relocating and hitting catch-and-shoot threes.

It’s a simple game.

White is now 39-of-78 on threes over the last eight games, that’s fifty percent for the all the fellow nerds out there. Pretty good.

After shooting a hair below 30 percent during his first 13 games of the season, White cited help from new Director of Player Development and shooting coach Peter Patton as part of the reason for the upward swing.

“Not really tweaks, but I finally started to learn my shot,” White explained. “Before everybody just said I could really shoot, but nobody ever taught me how to learn my shot. I kind of just shot the ball. And he’s been a big help in like helping me learn my shot.”

“Learn my shot”. What does that mean?

“Why I miss, when I miss, why did it go this way, why did it go that way?” he said.

“The main thing for me was getting back round, squaring my body up to the rim,” White continued. “And then holding my release, holding my follow through in the basket. I had a tendency to either snatch my follow through or follow through to the right. And a lot of those times my ball would go right. And most of the times when I miss, those were big three things.”

White is a rhythm shooter and Billy Donovan said prior to the game that, although he continues to operate as the point guard, getting him off the ball to open up those catch-and-shoot opportunities has been a point of emphasis to get him cleaner looks.

“I’ve talked to him a lot about getting off the ball some — not in terms of he needs to be off the point —  he gets the offense started with a pass, it kind of gets him off the ball moving a little bit,” Donovan explained. “He can find those creases and cracks in the offense when there’s ball movement.”

When White struggled shooting the ball earlier in the year, he was attempting 5.5 threes per game. In the most recent eight games, he’s up to 9.75 per. When asked about the stark increase, he was clear:

“Oh, well because I was getting in trouble,” White laughed. “I was getting in trouble a lot for not taking them.”

White said Donovan called him out during a few film sessions to point out spots where he should have let it fly.

“I don’t think I wasn’t not shooting, I think I it was a couple of times where I thought a guy was closing hard at me and he did a good job on the closeout…Probably some of the shots I took wasn’t, to me, probably wasn’t the best shot, but they went in so and they keep encouraging me.”

Shooters shoot. And the Bulls need White to do exactly that.

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