How the Bulls should use Coby White in 2022-23

Coby White, Chicago Bulls (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Coby White, Chicago Bulls (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

The first three years of Coby White’s career have been far from what anyone in the Chicago Bulls organization was hoping for when they selected him seventh overall in the 2019 draft. After a promising rookie season, where he averaged 13.2 points per game and had multiple 30+ point performances, expectations were high for the Bulls’ youngster. But as White enters his fourth NBA season, the narrative surrounding his career has completely changed.

With the additions of guards Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso, White saw his playing time dip to that of a bench role and had career lows in points and rebounds last season. The problem with White doesn’t seem to be related to skill as much as it is his fit. The Bulls’ crowded backcourt has made it hard for Billy Donovan to carve out a clear role in the rotation for White and has led many people to buy into the idea that both White and the Bulls may be best suited to part ways.

But with White’s trade value at a career-low, it wouldn’t be a wise decision for the Chicago Bulls to let go of a former top ten pick who is still only 22 years old. Finding a way to get White more heavily involved in the offense will take some work, but it could pay off down the road.

After a forgettable 2021-22 campaign, Coby White’s future with the Chicago Bulls seems to have far more questions than answers.

For any player the Bulls will bring off the bench this season, White has by far the most scoring ability. It just comes down to making sure he gets enough opportunities. In his 17 games as a starter last year, White averaged 16.5 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 4.3 assists on 43.4%/43.7%/80% shooting splits. Not only did White’s production take a noticeable jump, but he also maintained his efficiency. The fact that his shooting splits stayed close to his season averages on a higher usage rate shows that White can thrive in a more prominent role.

The problem is there may not be a bigger role for White than the 27.5 minutes per game he got in 2022. However, what can be changed is how White is utilized in those 27 minutes. One thing the Bulls should look to do is limit the minutes White and Zach LaVine share on the court. Both being score-first guards makes it hard for the two to co-exist. It’s no coincidence that White’s numbers went up across the board when LaVine missed time with injuries the last two years.

I’m not suggesting the Bulls go out of their way to take LaVine off the court in order to accommodate a lesser player, but for a player that has only logged over 35 mpg on his career, there will be opportunities for Chicago to execute this strategy.

Secondly, White has always been regarded as a rhythmic scorer. He’s been a very streaky player in his pro career, but much of that has stemmed from how he has been used. A guy like White can’t come into the game, take a couple of shots and go back on the bench for the next ten minutes. He needs to get into a groove, and the only way that can happen is if he gets as many scoring opportunities. When Caruso and Ball missed time with injuries, we saw several scoring bursts from White. This is why, when possible, White should play on ball.

There’s no denying that Coby White and the Bulls are in a peculiar spot. White performs noticeably better in bigger roles, but the Chicago Bulls have too much talent at the guard spot to give him more playing time. Still, the Bulls can’t run from White’s identity. He’s a below-average defender and pedestrian playmaker. The only way they can seriously benefit from White’s presence on the court is if they go out of their way to give him more looks as a scorer. If that can’t be done, then White’s time in Chicago will come to an end sooner rather than later.

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