Bulls rookie Coby White finally moving into starting lineup
Despite a season of disappointment and uncertainty, the Bulls are rewarding their first-round pick by making him the starting point guard.
There shouldn’t be much to salvage from the disappointment that has been the Bulls’ season.
From underachieving to uncertainty about the front office and coaching staff beyond next month to another lost season for a roster that has proved to be poorly constructed, it has been forgettable.
Rookie Coby White is about all the Bulls have to talk up these days, so they’re going to shine the spotlight on him as brightly as they can in their final 18 games.
Coach Jim Boylen, who had been hinting since last week that White was playing his way into a starting role, made it official after practice Monday by announcing White would replace Tomas Satoransky in the starting lineup.
‘‘Well, I think the biggest thing is this is the next stage in his development,’’ Boylen said of White. ‘‘He’s earned this opportunity. He’s grown into this opportunity. And we’ll take it a game at a time and coach him the same way we’ve been coaching him. I’m excited for him.
‘‘He started off as a guy that was off-the-ball. We gravitated him more to the ball, and now he’s going to be on the ball more with that first group. I think the progression has been good. It’s been good.’’
Offensively, it has been more than good lately; it has been terrific.
White won Eastern Conference rookie of the month for February, averaging 20.1 points, 4.1 assists and four rebounds in nine games. Since the All-Star break, he is averaging 25.2 points and 4.2 assists.
But Boylen said it’s his growth on defense that enabled White to force his way into the starting lineup.
‘‘What he’s given me most of all is a willingness to improve at it,’’ Boylen said. ‘‘His value of it, he takes it very seriously, his development at that end. I’ve mentioned it before: We watch his defensive clips together. He’s improved his angle of containment, he’s improved his pick-and-roll stance and position . . . and his overall physicality and competitiveness has improved.
‘‘That’s a huge growth plate for him, and he’s locked into it, which I think had to happen for him to get this opportunity. If he hadn’t grown at the defensive end, I don’t think this opportunity would be coming for him, so he needs to get the credit for that.’’
As for Satoransky, Boylen said he took the news well.
‘‘Tomas is a professional,’’ Boylen said. ‘‘Tomas was good. He was really good. Tomas just wants to help the team win. He’ll do that in any role we give him. That’s why we wanted him. He’s a team guy.’’
White’s first start will be a home game Tuesday against the Cavaliers, but he wasn’t making a big deal out of the situation.
‘‘I honestly didn’t think I would be starting, you know?’’ White said. ‘‘Like I said, Coach never put the idea out there. We never really talked about it, so I was comfortable without starting. I’m excited to start, but I was also comfortable not starting.’’
What White is excited about is getting a chance to show off his defensive improvements.
‘‘I feel like I came a long way [defensively], both on the ball and off the ball,’’ he said. ‘‘I’ve learned a lot, and I’ve gotten better at it over the course of the season. I’m just gonna continue to keep getting better and continue to keep grinding on defense.’’