Bulls guard Coby White is seeing progress.
He’s seeing maturity in his game.
Even on Monday in Miami, facing the third-best defensive team in the league in points allowed, White was focused on picking his spots.
He was held scoreless in the first quarter, but his three assists and only one turnover weren’t going to anger anyone on the Bulls’ coaching staff.
Since the start of the season, the coaching staff has wanted him to be aggressive with his shot but not hunt it down. The advice was be a distributor but also be yourself.
In the last few weeks, it all seems to finally be clicking.
“I think it’s just me continuing to get reps in and continuing to play,’’ White said. “Me being down on myself throughout the game because I have a bad start isn’t helping my teammates at all or helping my team.
‘‘So I just got to continue to play through it because I’m going to make mistakes. Nobody is perfect. How you react is the biggest thing.’’
It has been a journey for White under coach Billy Donovan.
Given the benefit of the doubt at the beginning of the season, White was named the starting point guard despite only one start his rookie season. But he lost the job after the All-Star break.
Now it’s his again.
It would’ve been nice to have Zach LaVine to run alongside White in that starting unit, but that’s not possible with LaVine still in the health and safety protocol.
“[White] continues to get better,’’ Donovan said. “Certainly starting the year as a full-time point guard and then coming out of the starting lineup off the bench, he’s just gotten better. And I’ve always said this about him: I admire his perseverance and his will. He’s a good fighter. When things are not going well for him, you know he’s gonna come back and respond.
‘‘But I do think he continues to get better, he improves. And certainly since Zach has been out, he has played very, very well for us.’’
Things will get interesting in the offseason, however. Will the Bulls search out a veteran point guard to take the starting role and continue to mentor White? Or do they hope that a full offseason under Donovan and the coaching staff will help him progress enough so that they can rely on him consistently next season?
The answer will speak volumes about how far White has come this season.
Donovan was asked about coaching All-Star center Nikola Vucevic compared to coaching against him and also if the big man was underrated.
“I don’t think anybody in the league feels that way about him,’’ Donovan said.
“Anytime you’re preparing to play against him, at least when he was in Orlando, you know he’s just a tough cover because of his skill set — 7 feet, shoots threes, can play with his back to the basket, can post, can take mid-range jump shots.
“So maybe he doesn’t get a lot of the fanfare that other guys get, but if you talk to players and talk to coaches around the league, they would have a high opinion of [Vucevic] and what he’s been able to do throughout his career.’’