Bulls guard Coby White catches the eye of coach Jim Boylen
White has shown he deserves playing time in back-to-back games, including Sunday’s victory against the Raptors. Coach Jim Boylen just has to figure out how to get him those minutes.
Rookie Coby White just gets it.
That carries a lot of weight with Bulls coach Jim Boylen.
In one conversation White had with the media last week, he was discussing ball movement and insisted that the team’s energy changes when the ball is hopping around.
“I’ve told you before, [White] has a maturity, an intelligence for a younger guy,’’ Boylen said. “I think he listens, and his perception of what’s going on is really good. That’s a good example. There is energy when the ball moves. There’s an unselfishness, there’s a feeling when the ball’s popping. It’s pretty cool that he kind of figured it out already.
“Some guys think it’s cool when you [dribble it] 12 times. So he’s figuring it out.’’
It will be up to Boylen and his coaching staff to figure out how to unleash White in the rotation.
White, the No. 7 pick in the 2019 draft, won’t start. That’s clear. Boylen might remain hesitant to officially name his five starters for the Oct. 23 season opener, but he has more than shown his hand.
On Sunday, he said that the last two preseason games would mirror how the team will look when the games count.
That means Tomas Satoransky and Zach LaVine in the backcourt, Lauri Markkanen and Otto Porter Jr. on the wings and Wendell Carter Jr. — who made his preseason debut against the Raptors — in the middle. Toronto rested its starters and even a few key reserves Sunday, but Boylen wasn’t going to be picky about the Bulls’ 105-91 victory, their first of the preseason.
So where does that leave White?
On the outside looking in. In Boylen’s mind, he’s on the outside looking to bust his way in.
“Just ball, be a baller,’’ Boylen said when discussing White after his 24-point, eight-rebound performance Friday in Indiana. “We’re not going to define you in this way or that way, or you have to do this. Trust your instincts, compete at both ends of the floor, try to become a two-way player and just grow. He’s done a good job of that.’’
So the plan for White will be a simple one: find minutes for him somewhere, anywhere.
White is listed at 6-5 and plays the game like his game controller is stuck on the R2 speed-burst button. He has had preseason minutes at point guard, at shooting guard and even at the wing. The hope is to use that versatility to scratch out about 20 minutes per game and to ride him longer if he gets hot, kind of like he did against Toronto. He played 23 minutes, scored 18 points off the bench and shot 6-for-16 from the field.
The Bulls will undoubtedly continue shopping Kris Dunn, and if they can find a buyer, that will mean even more minutes for White.
Boylen loves that White hasn’t been demanding anything.
“I just feel like I’m learning,’’ White said of his preseason. “I’m taking big steps. And every day is a process. I’m just trying to continue to get better every day.’’
White even feels like he has a strong sense of what he needs to improve.
“I think it’s just making better decisions offensively,’’ White said. “I’ve made some miscues. But just playing hard. Just going out there and playing hard and playing with effort is what I can control.’’