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Bulls Rising Star Reveals Mindset Amid Award-Worthy Season

Coby White and the Bulls have a promising future ahead of them

Amid an unexpected showing this season, Chicago Bulls guard Coby White is among the candidates for the 2024 Most Improved Player award.

Averaging 19.6 points and 5.3 assists per game, White faces steep competition, namely from Philadelphia 76ers guard Tyrese Maxey. However, it’ll be an unforgettable season by and for White no matter the outcome. The fifth-year pro has overcome tremendous odds to be in this position.

He knows it as well, relaying a candid message to NBC Sports Chicago’s K.C. Johnson about what winning Most Improved Player would mean to him:

“It would mean a lot to me,” White said. “Just to show the progress I’ve made and to set the example to younger guys around the NBA that people can count you out and say what you want about you. But as long as you stay true to who you are, keep working, and stay humble throughout, things can come your way.”

Coby White’s Rise and Fall

The evolution of Coby White has been among the NBA’s most fascinating storylines this season.

The seventh overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft out of UNC, White flashed as a scorer straight out of the gate. As a rookie, he scored 25 points against the Memphis Grizzlies in just his second career game. Two and a half weeks later, he knocked down a then career-high seven 3-pointers against the New York Knicks. Months later, he scored a then career-high 35 points against the Oklahoma City Thunder; his third straight game scoring at least 33 points.

Suffice it to say, if White entered the league with high expectations, he met them by and far. Yet, the Chicago Bulls floundered following Jimmy Butler’s departure in 2017, hollowing the emotions of what should have been a fulfilling stretch for the North Carolina native.

That being said, over the course of the next few seasons, White had obvious areas where he needed to improve. His slight frame limited his effectiveness on drives. He was streaky, with a questionable shot selection. For a 6-foot-5 combo guard, he hadn’t shown enough as a playmaker or facilitator. His defense, impacted by his suboptimal physical profile as well as a lack of effort, was iffy. White hit all the boxes of the archetypal sixth man.

However, No. 7 picks are expected to be a bit more than sixth men. Thus, White went from a reputable rookie to an underwhelming draft pick. Though he recorded his most efficient season to date in 2021-22, he appeared to fizzle out the next season, averaging a career-low 9.7 points per game while playing a career-low 23.4 points per game.

Coby White Rises from the Ashes

Coby White is right to say that people had counted him out. Entering the 2023-24 season, there was little discussion about the former first-round pick. The jury seemed to be out that he had shooting talent but was simply too inconsistent to be relied upon for a major role.

Many a great player has taken advantage of an unexpected opportunity though, and that’s exactly what White did. Star guard Zach LaVine was in and out of the lineup, eventually opting for season-ending foot surgery. Yet even when LaVine did play, it was apparent that the Chicago Bulls needed better point guard play. Receiving increased minutes from the start of the season and a larger role within a month of it, White has excelled in multiple areas.

He has had his most efficient season yet, shooting 45.4 percent from the field and 38.7 percent from 3. White has also shown tremendous growth in the pick-and-roll, both in his processing of the court and use of screens. He’s even drawn a few charges this season, a demonstration of his heart and his leadership, as it shows how much he cares about winning.

All he has to do now is keep building on his foundation as the Bulls try to restore glory to The House That Jordan Built.


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