Coby White

Bulls' Coby White has improved his scoring these 3 ways

5th-year guard enjoying breakout season, drawing strong praise from teammates, coaches

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PHOENIX --- Coby White's breakout season continued Monday night with 26 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists against the Phoenix Suns.

"It don't matter," White said. "We didn't win. I care about wins and losses. This one hurt us as a whole."

This mindset, according to sage veteran DeMar DeRozan, is a big reason for White's success.

"He's such a competitor," DeRozan said. "That’s one thing I always look in for guys---guys whose compete level is high and how much you love the game. If you’re a competitor and you love the game, everything you put into it is going to come."

And it's coming for White, who now is averaging 18.8 points and 5 assists on 46 percent shooting, including 40.3 percent on seven 3-point attempts per game. These all represent career-high marks.

"One thing about Coby is how hard he works and how resilient he is and the competitor that he is, it’s been amazing just to watch how comfortable he’s getting," DeRozan said. "He’s making big shots, making big plays, being aggressive, getting downhill. The way he handles the ball, the way he can create his own shot and finish at the basket, he deserves much more credit than he’s getting."

Indeed, that White posted his stat line on a night the Chicago Bulls traded blows with future Hall of Famer Kevin Durant in an entertaining game but ultimately painful loss made his performance pop even more.

"Maybe Coby isn't as established as those guys are in terms of their number of years in the league," coach Billy Donovan said, citing Durant and DeRozan. "But what he's done from his rookie year to now I think speaks to where he can get to."

Along those lines, there are three specific ways in which White has taken a jump offensively this season.

His range

With 3-point makes of 26, 27, 28 and 29 feet against the Suns, White is now shooting 39 percent on 213 attempts between 25-29 feet. He already has made one more shot from that distance in 17 fewer attempts than last season.

With three, White also has matched last season's total of 3-pointers made between 30-34 feet with almost half a season to play.

"I try to play off the line a little bit because I'm used to people kind of running at me now," White said. "So I try to create more space. I feel I can get those off so I just shoot it."

His change of pace

This may be where White has improved the most.

When White first arrived as a 19-year-old after one season at North Carolina, he had one speed and one direction---a north to south blur. Now, White's ability to change pace and change direction not only has helped him become a better pick-and-roll player, but it has opened up more space for his assist average to rise.

White had two gorgeous hesitation moves against the Suns, victimizing Durant on one.

"I'm just reading the defense," White said. "I know that the scouting report is probably don't let me shoot. So I just try to use that to my advantage."

His finishing

This has been a steady improvement over the past two seasons. White is actually down slightly from last season's career-best 64.8 percent shooting on shots 5 feet or less. But he's still at an impressive 61.1 percent and already has 24 more makes from that distance than last season.

In fact, with White's usage jumping from 17.9 last season to 22.2 this season, he has had more opportunities across the board. But that hasn't dropped his effective field-goal percentage (55.1 last season and 55.7 this season) or his true shooting (57.2 last season and 58.9 this season).

"He’s always after games going into the weight room, lifting. He’s in the gym early, first," DeRozan said. "The last two summers, me working out with him and seeing how hard he works and how much he wants it and how much he pays attention to the game, you can see how much he puts into the game.

"So it’s not a surprise. It’s more so that it’s good that everybody else gets to see him. When I first came, I think he missed a couple games early with the shoulder (injury) and he was trying to figure out if he was a spot-up shooter, point guard, two guard. Now seeing him evolve into a complete player is definitely cool to see."

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