White Fits Bulls' Biggest Need, But Is He An Answer?

A point guard from North Carolina, White projects to be a mid-to-late lottery pick.

Cody Westerlund
May 17, 2019 - 2:22 pm
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CHICAGO (670 The Score) – Whether he was aware or not, North Carolina point guard Coby White wasted no time endearing himself to Bulls with a smooth comment at the NBA Draft Combine on Thursday afternoon.

“Michael Jordan is the GOAT, the greatest to ever do it,” White said.

White’s quote was in response to a question about him breaking Jordan’s school record for the most points by a freshman in a single season. Given the setting of the combine in Chicago and Jordan’s legacy, the query wasn’t coincidental.

What also isn’t coincidental is that White figures to be on the Bulls’ radar leading up to the NBA Draft on June 20. White, 19, was one of the most impressive freshmen in the nation, averaging 16.1 points and 4.1 assists while shooting 35.3 percent on 3-pointer and earning second-team All-ACC honors.

Meanwhile, the Bulls are in dire need of a point guard, a fact they’ve publicly acknowledged time and again amid Kris Dunn’s inconsistencies. Chicago holds the No. 7 pick in the NBA Draft, and White is projected by many as a mid-to-late lottery pick.

He has also received feedback suggesting five to nine is his draft range, he said.

“You dream about playing in the NBA your whole life, and you know playing in Chicago for the Bulls would be a happy moment for me,” White said.

In the moments after the Bulls disappointingly fell three spots to the No. 7 pick in the draft lottery Tuesday, executive vice president of basketball operations John Paxson admitted that such a slot could affect the organization’s mindset. The Bulls have historically drafted the best player available, as most teams do, but Paxson added that need could take precedent over the top talent if the team graded the players to be in the same tier.

Given that most talent evaluators rank at least seven players ahead of White, the case for the Bulls selecting him lies primarily in need. White will also have the next month-plus to further prove himself in individual workouts and ascend on draft boards.

One area that White is focusing on is using one of his biggest assets – his speed – to his benefit in more ways than one.

“Definitely using my change of speed – I’ve been working on that a lot in workouts lately in the past month,” said White, who measured 6-foot-4 3/4 in shoes and weighed 191 pounds. “Definitely using my change of speed, use my speed to my advantage. You know, just letting the game come to me, slow it down for me.

“The workouts will help me a lot. It will show different things in my game. Hopefully, I find a good spot for me.”

White is praised for his ability to create shots for himself and in his comfort in catch-and-shoot situations. He wants to improve his pick-and-roll reads, as that wasn’t a set that a turbo-charged North Carolina team used much last season, he said. That acknowledgement dovetails with what some view as the biggest questions surrounding White.

Is he a true point guard? Is he a good enough passer and decision-maker to direct an elite offense? Or is he a lightning-fast score-first lead guard who needs a lot of time to mature at the NBA level?

“I’m a point guard,” White responded emphatically when asked if he’s a point guard, shooting guard or a guard.

Time will tell if the Bulls believe he's the answer for them.

“Wherever I land, hopefully I’ll be able to make a major impact,” White said. “The league is full of great point guards every night. I’m looking forward to the challenge and testing myself.”

Cody Westerlund is a sports editor for 670TheScore.com and covers the Bulls. Follow him on Twitter @CodyWesterlund.