Coby White just can’t seem to catch a break, can he? Despite seeming on the verge of a breakout several times in his career, this latest injury is just the most recent example of a setback holding the guard back from taking a big role with the Chicago Bulls. This is now the fourth time he’s missed a stretch of multiple games over the last two seasons.
While the Bulls did try to experiment with running him at point guard, being stuck behind Zach LaVine has hampered his opportunities. Repeatedly missing time due to injury has only exacerbated the issue.
Due to this, his production has steadily declined, with his points per game dipping each year since his sophomore campaign. Now that he’s been relegated to the bench, he’s posting the least points, rebounds, and assists of his career. Although he likely hoped to have a big season before entering restricted free agency this summer, this contract year has been far from fruitful.
Don’t mistake Coby’s statistical regression for an actual decline, however, as he’s made several adjustments to improve at the margins in his four years with the Bulls. His ball handling, court vision, and defensive effort have all improved drastically. And yet, Coby can’t seem to keep his name out of trade rumors.
Despite consistently solid production, Coby White hasn’t become the long-term building block the Chicago Bulls hoped for with the 7th pick in 2019.
The reason for this is simple, it’s hard to justify a big payday when his box score numbers may not exactly reflect his actual worth. I would not be surprised in the slightest to see Coby thrive with another team, after all, he may not be Chicago’s savior but he has been far from bad. Ultimately, being stuck behind LaVine in the depth chart has hampered White’s performance on the court and opportunities to develop his game.
It’s because of this dilemma that makes Coby’s worth so hard to put a dollar sign on. Not just in free agency either, as the Bulls have repeatedly entertained the idea of trading Coby for the right price. But what exactly is his worth?
The fact is we simply do not know. And we will likely never know, as long as he’s buried behind a more talented player in LaVine.
You can never have too many big-time shot-creators and three-point specialists on your team, so I wouldn’t blame Chicago’s front office for holding onto Coby long-term. But in the grand scheme that is cap management in the modern NBA, it is also true that the Bulls would be better off redirecting their available money in better places — like re-signing Ayo Dosunmu and Nikola Vucevic (or finding an adequate replacement).
Whether or not that means the last game Coby plays for Chicago takes place in February ahead of the trade deadline, or at the end of the season matters little. Unless he takes a dramatic leap in the second half of the 2022-23 campaign, it’s starting to feel like the Chicago Bulls will lose out on yet another talented young player.