Is Coby White Taking the Leap?

Coby White the leap
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The Chicago Bulls are performing well below expectations this season, as the anticipated advantage of “continuity” has not yielded positive results. The team is well below .500 through 21 games. Yet there’s still hope thanks to the kid out of North Carolina. Coby White has stepped up this season! He was a key contributor in the team’s recent wins against the Pelicans and Bucks.

Getting his Own

Over his last eight games Coby is averaging 20 points, 4.5 assists, and nearly 4 rebounds on 48/50/97 shooting splits. He’s currently eighth in the league in three pointers made and has been shooting with much more confidence in this stretch.

White has been good in catch and shoot situations for most of his NBA career, but he’s been excellent this season. Out of his seven 3PA per game, five are off the catch. And those are going in 40.7% of the time.

Coby gets these shots by patiently spotting up off-ball and relocating into advantageous positions around the arc. His shot preparation is also key. You’ll notice that he always has his hands ready and gets his feet set before letting it fly.

The exciting thing about Coby’s shooting improvements is how much room he still has to grow. Last season, he shot a dreadful 27.6% on pull up 3’s on only 0.8 attempts per game. Through 21 games this season he’s improved to 38.9% on 1.7 attempts per game.

As the season progresses it will be interesting to see if these shooting percentages hold, and personally I’d like to see Coby shoot even more 3’s off the dribble. The Bulls’ last two games are filled with examples of his potential as an elite three-point weapon.

Dropping Dimes

It’s common for young guards to struggle in finding a balance between setting up teammates and looking for their own shot. This was certainly an issue for Coby to start the season. But after reportedly “getting in trouble a lot for not taking [threes],” he’s been more aggressive lately. This adjustment has been beneficial for both Coby and the team as a whole.

With Coby White on the floor the Bulls have a 113.7 offensive rating. That is about average across the league this season. However, with Coby on the bench their offensive rating plummets to 104.02 (via PBP Stats). This is a reflection of the value he adds as a shooter as well as his playmaking ability.

His improved threat as a shooter is drawing more attention from opposing defenses. Pair that threat with his speed and handle, and you’ve got a player that regularly gets paint touches. This means either an open layup for him, or open shots for teammates who make themselves available to receive dimes.

Coby expertly probes through defenses in pick and roll scenarios, guiding his man into the screen or dashing away from it. His head is always up, eyes scanning the floor as he finds the best shot for his team.

Coby White has been one of the few bright spots on the Bulls in a season mired by trade rumors, team meetings, and losing. His immense improvements as a shooter and playmaker this season signal to me that Coby is taking the leap. He’s progressed from a complementary piece to the primary ball handler. Whether this change consistently results in wins is still up in the air, but it’s certainly an exciting development for Bulls fans.

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