Bulls’ Coby White is pointing in right direction, but test is coming
White quietly has improved his ball security as he learns point-guard play on the fly. That improvement is about to be truly tested during the upcoming schedule, specifically the next three games.
Bulls guard Coby White’s recent resurgence is about to get tested.
White is coming off a zero-turnover night Thursday against the Hornets and has been solid in that department in four of the last five games (one, four, one, one and zero).
‘‘I spend a lot of time talking to Mo,’’ White said, referring to assistant coach Maurice Cheeks. ‘‘I know y’all are tired of hearing me talk about Mo, but I spend a lot of time talking to Mo because he was a Hall of Fame point guard, and [I’m] just learning from him as much as I can.
‘‘He’s been a tremendous help for me, personally. Especially at the point-guard position, just teaching me and showing me the ropes and ways that I can impact the game other than just scoring.’’
The problem is, Cheeks only can prepare him so much. Two games against the Heat and another against the Knicks will show whether White really understands the lessons he is being taught.
The Heat entered play Friday ranked third in the NBA in fewest points allowed (107) and eighth in forcing turnovers (14.4). The Knicks, who are coached by Tom Thibodeau, suffocate opponents with their physicality and pressure, leading the league in fewest points allowed (104.7) and opponents’ field-goal percentage (.442).
White, however, has improved his ball security, seemingly learning on the fly. That’s no easy feat, considering the Bulls’ ever-changing personnel and their lack of practice time.
In December, White turned the ball over three times a game. By the end of January, it was down to 2.5. He came out of February at 2.1 and got it down to 1.9 in March. So far in April, he’s at 1.8.
He gets it. That’s a great sign. But credit Cheeks for making sure he gets it.
‘‘I’m not going to say what he says,’’ White said, laughing. ‘‘The main thing he says is never have the same turnover twice. If you dribble in traffic, come off the ball screen, you know the next possession that traffic is still gonna be there. Never have the same turnover twice, that’s his biggest thing that he tells me. Learn from that turnover.
‘‘You’re going to make mistakes. Nobody is perfect.’’
White certainly isn’t. And while he has been taking more of a point-guard mentality, especially with shooting guard Zach LaVine in the health and safety protocol, that doesn’t mean the Bulls’ point-guard issues suddenly have been settled.
What White has shown is that he can handle the duties better than he did at the start of the season and that he is coachable.
‘‘You get to a place where you say, ‘OK, here are the things I know I have to do to help the team,’ ’’ coach Billy Donovan said about White. ‘‘Coby’s always been a team guy. I’m happy to see him grow and progress the way he has over the course of the season.’’
Now, however, he has to finish the season on the same upward arc, starting Saturday in Miami.
‘‘We know we’re in for a dogfight going to Miami,’’ White said.