It was another bad moment for Bulls point guard Coby White.
It was subtle, but it was bad nonetheless.
The level of play in the game Monday between the Bulls and Rockets was shaky out of the gate — and that’s an understatement. White only added to the tremors.
After a rebound by Zach LaVine with 8:40 left in the first quarter, the ball was fumbled around before finding its way to White in the corner. Rather than settle down the Bulls’ offense and bring a calmness to the court — like a quality point guard should — White launched a contested three-pointer that clanked off the rim, ensuring the clunky play would continue.
It wasn’t White’s only head-scratching moment of the game, but he had some good ones, too.
Still, are there enough of those good moments?
More important, will there have been enough of them when the 2021 NBA Draft comes around? After all, the Bulls might be fortunate enough to be in a position to draft Gonzaga’s Jalen Suggs or Oklahoma State’s Cade Cunningham.
That’s something coach Billy Donovan doesn’t have an answer for right now. His focus is on trying to turn White into a quality starting point guard in the NBA.
‘‘I have not had a conversation at all with [executive vice president of basketball operations] Arturas [Karnisovas] or [general manager] Marc [Eversley] about, ‘Hey, listen, we need to make decisions by the end of the year,’ ’’ Donovan said before the Bulls’ 125-120 victory against the Rockets at the United Center. ‘‘Coby is our point guard. He’s in our organization.
‘‘You want to look down the road. . . . After Houston, I’ll just be worried about practice and how we can help the group get better. We’ve got to really continue to work with [White] because I think he’s been really good in some situations. In some games, he’s been really good. Then there have been some other games, like any other player, I think he would like to have some plays or a game back. Maybe he didn’t play particularly well.’’
To be fair, White entered the game against the Rockets with only 14 NBA starts under his belt — 13 of them under Donovan this season.
In the five games the Bulls had won this season entering play Monday, the less White had the ball in his hands, the better they were. In their victories, White’s usage rate was 21% and he averaged 15.6 points. In their losses, his usage rate was 23% and he averaged 16.8 points.
That’s what Donovan has been trying to get into White’s head: More points aren’t better for a point guard.
It has been a tough lesson to learn for White, whom the Bulls selected seventh overall in the 2019 draft out of North Carolina.
‘‘I am very, very conscious of the fact that I don’t want to take away what he is as a player, but his game cannot be totally and solely wrapped up in scoring,’’ Donovan said. ‘‘And I think he’s got to understand when to shoot, when to pass, when to drive, [when to] play in pick-and-roll. I think he can get better in doing that.
‘‘It is early, so I don’t know where this is going to shake out. But I do have a lot of confidence in him as a person and as a player.’’
So does White, which works in his favor.
White wants to be an elite starting point guard, but will his skills and makeup allow him to? And how long will the Bulls have to wait?
‘‘I’ve got to eat last,’’ White said. ‘‘I’ve got to get everybody else involved and get everybody else shots. Like I said, it’s a learning process. It’s not going to happen overnight. But I feel like I’m getting better each and every game.’’