Deep Dive: Coby White, Consistently Inconsistent

Troy Pierce | February 28th, 2020 

Coby White has been one of the few bright spots for the Chicago Bulls this year. A rocky first ten games set the tone for most of what we’ve seen from the young guard. He is inconsistent on a consistent basis. Perhaps, that will change following White’s third straight 30-plus point performance.

White became the first player in NBA history to score at least 30 points, shoot at least 50% from the field, and make at least five three’s in three consecutive games. Just three nights before White set his then career-high 33 points he finished with just six points on a paltry three-for-ten shooting and getting blanked from beyond the arc. A common theme throughout his first season. While White hasn’t quite been enough to help lift the Bulls out of obscurity, he’s proving to be the Robin to Zach LaVine’s Batman. An encouraging development with the absence, and regression, of Lauri Markkanen.

The case for White becomes much more damning when you dive into the numbers. When White scores at least 25 points on 50% shooting or better the Bulls have a 4-2 record. Chicago is also outscoring opponents by a whopping 75 points with White on the floor in those games. If we take all of White’s 25-point games, regardless of shooting percentage, the Bulls record falls to 4-3 with a +66 scoring margin when the rookie on the floor.

Even better, White isn’t just doing it on the offensive end. His seven highest individual scoring nights include one game with at least one block and one steal, five total games with at least one steal, two games with at least two steals, and one game with three steals. He’s proving to be a two-way contributor, and the Bulls desperately need that kind of production from their backcourt.

Now, let’s add in White’s only other game this season with at least 20 points. The Bulls record falls to .500, and they outscore opponents by 55 points with White on the floor. In those 20-point games, Coby White has taken at least eight three’s and 14 shots overall. Now, let’s look at just the games where White exceeded 20 points, regardless of point total, efficiency, or defensive numbers. In those games, White has scored (in descending order): 35, 33 (2x), 28, 27, 26, 25, and 23 points. The Bulls sit at .500 in those games, with White’s shooting percentages ranging from 39% to 63%.

The Bulls record doesn’t get much better when you look at White’s performances with just 50% shooting or better. The Bulls are 8-6 in those games. That stretch includes two monster victories over the Atlanta Hawks; each victory in excess of 34 points. Even though there’s no direct correlation between White’s individual success and the Bulls’ success, what does all this mean in terms of projecting Coby White’s career? Well, it’s remarkably similar to that of Louis Williams.

This year, Coby White is averaging just a hair under 25 minutes a night, 24.9 to be exact. For consistency, let’s compare White’s stats for this season to Williams 2014-15 campaign where he averaged just a hair over 25 minutes (25.2).

White: 38.7% FG on 11.4 FGA; 35.6% 3P on 5.5 3PA; 47.3% eFG; 12.3 points; 3.5 rebounds; 2.4 assists; 0.7 steals; 1.6 turnovers

Williams: 40.4% FG on 11.6 FGA; 34% 3P on 5.6 3PA; 48.6% eFG; 15.5 points; 1.9 rebounds; 2.1 assists; 1.1 steals; 1.3 turnovers

White is doing in his first year, what Williams was doing in year 10. Realistically, this doesn’t mean much, other than putting into perspective what White is truly capable of doing. Now, it’s just a matter of whether he can turn the corner and be a nightly scoring threat in the same manner as Williams.

It’s also worth addressing, especially in the wake of this outburst, that White doesn’t need to crack the starting line up. No matter how badly Bulls fans may want that to happen. He’s excelling in his role, playing the majority of his minutes with the starters, and closing games. He doesn’t need to start to continue his development.

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