Jim Boylen won’t place a label on Bulls rookie Coby White
In the Bulls’ lone victory, coach Jim Boylen let Coby White just do what he does and be a “baller.’’ The Bulls might need a lot more of that.
Bulls coach Jim Boylen doesn’t want any labels hung on his rookie.
He won’t assign 6-4 guard Coby White a specific position, he won’t put a minutes restriction on him and he won’t even define how he wants him to play.
Does he want White playing isolation or does he want him attacking the rim? Well, the answer is Boylen simply wants him to play.
“I don’t critique [White] on every moment or everything,’’ Boylen said. “I try to let him play, let him figure it out a little bit. I don’t put titles on him, and I don’t give him a position title. I just want him to be free. I want him mentally to just use his ability and make good decisions.
“Road or home, I hope those things stay the same. The fact that he played well on the road [to start the season] says more about him than anything I can say to him, his toughness, his maturity. I’ve said it before, he’s a baller. Dude balls, and I love him.’’
So that’s it. “Baller’’ is about the only label Boylen will attach to White, the No. 7 overall pick out of North Carolina.
But if the Bulls’ offense continues to blow hot and cold like it has throughout the preseason and the first three regular-season games, “savior’’ might also start to be thrown around.
The Bulls (1-2) will take to the road again Monday with a game against the Knicks at Madison Square Garden. Zach LaVine was great in their lone victory, scoring 37 points Friday against the Grizzlies in Memphis, but the game turned when Boylen unleashed White in the second half.
He had 25 points in 30 minutes and also grabbed six rebounds.
And just like that, White became a legitimate early-season Rookie of the Year candidate.
Just as Derrick Rose once said, “Why not me?’’ in his MVP chase, why not White as the league’s top rookie?
“Nah, man, I just go out there and hoop,’’ White said. “Like I always say, as long as I go out there and play hard, everything will take care of itself. At the end of the year, if I’m in that discussion, then I’m in that discussion. If I’m not, I’m not. I just know that as a team, I just want to accomplish our goal, and that’s to make the playoffs.’’
Either way, White’s already in that best-rookie discussion.
Despite a poor game in the Bulls’ home opener Saturday in which he played only 22 minutes and scored eight points, White entered Sunday as the fourth-leading rookie scorer at 16.7 points per game, trailing only Kendrick Nunn, RJ Barrett and P.J. Washington.
It will be Boylen’s responsibility to further White’s development, and he’s taking that duty very seriously.
That means letting White play and letting him learn from his mistakes as well as helping him correct those mistakes.
So when White — as well as LaVine — was playing mostly isolation offense against the Grizzlies, Boylen didn’t say a thing. Even though he preaches ball movement, Boylen allowed White to do his thing.
“That’s the challenge,’’ Boylen said. “That’s the growing moment. Greatness in this league has been defined by consistency.’’
The hope is White has started to take steps down that path.