Coby White’s Game 1 performance vs Bucks shows his importance to Bulls

Coby White (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Coby White (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

The Chicago Bulls’ Game 1 loss highlighted the highs and lows of the team’s roster, including the fickle play of their star veterans. DeMar DeRozan, Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic shot a combined 21-of-71 from the field, and this was a three-point game with 30 seconds to go. Makes you wonder what could’ve been.

Vucevic scored 24 points on 27 shot attempts. LaVine’s failed to hit a shot in the fourth quarter. DeRozan finished with 18 points on 25 shot attempts. With that said, the Bulls only lost by seven and were able to get Bucks’ star Giannis Antetokounmpo in foul trouble.

Their ability to stay close was thanks to their role players, specifically Coby White.

White had a very rough end to the season, with his usage rating going down from 22% to 18%. The lower his usage rating, the worse his shooting became in the final 10 games of the year. Over that span, he averaged eight points on 23.5% shooting from three.

Coby White is a key role player for the Chicago Bulls

White is a former lottery pick who’s still expected to be a key piece for the Bulls. He’s had an up-and-down tenure with Chicago, though. He’ll have games where he looks like an explosive scorer off the bench … then he has showings where he can’t hit a bucket to save his life.

In the team’s blowout loss to the Miami Heat in early April, White had an abysmal shooting night. The Heat doubled DeMar DeRozan the entire game, with White’s man being the one to leave for the double. White somehow still went 0-for-7 from 3-point range (and 0-for-8 overall).

But during Sunday’s game, he was a notable contributor in the Bulls’ comeback. He was confident in his stroke, shooting quickly on ball reversals. He took what the defense gave him, letting it fly and driving on poor closeouts, which helped him give Chicago the lead in the third quarter after they trailed by 15. He finished with 12 points on 5-of-10 shooting (2-of-6 from 3-point range) and four rebounds.

Despite the loss, Sunday’s game is an indicator of what White can be for the Bulls moving forward and in the future. His shooting and speed off the dribble at 6-foot-4 makes him a possible mismatch on the perimeter, especially on ball reversals.

He can still develop into a primary offensive option because of his ability to score at all three levels. His mid-range can improve, but, as of right now, he has the basic fundamentals to be a quality scoring option, which will help the Bulls in the event one of their main figures disappears.

Moving forward, Billy Donovan will need to ride out lineups with White if the stars continue to struggle from the field. When he’s aggressive and hitting shots, defenses will have to play him honestly. That will free up DeRozan and LaVine. It’s a win-win situation that could be a game changer in Game 2.

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