As the season winds down and the future looks “murky” in Chicago, one of the many decisions this summer will be Coby White’s pending free agency. Headed to the open market, the Bulls should cast a line to the 23-year-old former North Carolina Tarheel point guard. While many don’t know what will happen with stars Zach LaVine or DeMar DeRozan, retaining youth and productive bench pieces are two difficult commodities to obtain in today’s NBA, and White represents both. Let’s see how realistic it is that the Bulls bring back the fourth-year guard.
Beyond The Numbers
Simply looking at box scores and career averages, one would be an advocate for letting Coby White walk this summer. His points, rebounds, assists, field goal percentage, and three-point percentage have all dropped since last season, and most have plummeted each of the last two years.
An important distinction here is that his minutes have also slowed. He is no longer a starter, he’s more ball-dominant in the second unit, and he shoots the second-most three-point attempts on the team at the fifth-best clip of 35.8%. Per Basketball Reference, the league-wide average is 36% from deep, and having a 23-year-old off the bench that shoots the league average from deep is one area the Bulls cannot afford to lose. His turnovers are also at a career-low, and he’s taking much better care of the basketball offensively.
Aside from his offense, he’s also one of the only young Chicago Bulls showing real improvement in his weaknesses from year to year. This season, for example, his ball-handling, inside finishing, and defense have all taken a leap and have turned him into the Sixth Man of the Year for Chicago.
Worth The Price?
The Bulls will likely extend the 9.9 million dollar offer to Coby White, and assuming there are other suitors, they may be forced to match an offer sheet. While the price could get too steep for White, if it’s anywhere in the neighborhood under 15 million a year, they should extend the offer his way. It’s not often a team is presented with a 23-year-old who’s shown the grit and passion to improve during the offseason noticeably and is one of the best three-point shooters on a team that ranks dead-last in that category.
If White can improve his consistency in his new role, he could become one of the most electric deep-range guards in the league. With his speed and ball-handling ability tracing back to his days in Chapel Hill, at times, his scoring ability has been the difference for the Chicago Bulls. He’s often the one that has the ‘quiet’ high-scoring games and makes impacts beyond the stat sheet.
While it’s not flattering, the Bulls have won 14-of-25 games when White scores 10 or more points, mostly because he was the only source of bench-scoring before the Patrick Beverley addition pushed Patrick Williams and Ayo Dosunmu to the bench alongside White. This has also helped him play alongside a faster, better defensively, and more talented second unit.
Playing the GM role this summer, among several moving pieces and boatloads of uncertainty, should Coby White be back in a Bulls uniform next season and beyond?
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