Coby White

In an uncertain turning point for the Bulls, Coby White remains a certainty for the future

White's massive strides can't be overlooked in a transition phase for the Bulls

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Bulls VP Artūras Karnišovas said it himself on Saturday during his season-ending press conference --- change is coming for the Bulls.

“I’ve said numerous times today: This group, something doesn’t work. I have to find ways to find a group that’s going to make improvements. We’ve done it for a couple of years now and it hasn’t worked. Everything is on the table."

MORE: Bulls' Artūras Karnišovas vows to make changes

The futures of several Bulls players hang in the balance as change is paramount for this roster that has failed to make the playoffs over the past two seasons.

NBC Sports Chicago's K.C. Johnson has reported trading Zach LaVine remains an offseason focus for the Bulls. DeMar DeRozan will hit unrestricted free agency, likely seeking a pay raise and long-term extension based on his undeniably consistent play. And Patrick Williams --- this regime's first-ever draft pick for the Bulls --- will become a restricted free agent, too.

Needless to say, even players under contract will be evaluated. As Karnišovas said, "Everything is on the table." They'll explore all mediums, including trades, to pull the Bulls out of mediocrity.

But there's one player who should be protected at all costs this offseason: Coby White.

"He's made huge strides," Karnišovas said. "For me, he is (the NBA's) most improved player this year. Obviously, he's part of this group that kept us in it in the playoff hunt. How he's played this year, it's been unbelievable. I think he's still away from being, you know, far away from being a final product. I think he's gonna come back this offseason and he's gonna improve other things."

Remember, the Bulls re-signed White last June to the tune of a three-year deal worth $36 million ($12 million per year). Now, that deal appears to be a steal for the franchise. He'll inarguably ask for a pay raise down the line, should he continue on this upward trajectory.

Let's look quickly at some incredible marks White set this year compared to his last four seasons.

SeasonGamesGames startedMinutes (per game)FGs3-pt FGsPoints (per game)
2019-206511,674 (25.7)312133859 (13.2)
2020-2169542,156 (31.2)3751631,041 (15.1)
2021-2261171,675 (27.5)279136772 (12.7)
2022-237421,730 (23.4)263128715 (9.7)
2023-2479782,881 (36.5)5412091,509 (19.1)

White's explosion can't be understated. He performed at an all-new level for his career on the offensive side of the ball. He's firmly in the running for the NBA's Most Improved Player this season. And you can make the argument he's on a path to put himself in the All-Star conversation, too.

His defensive metrics can't say the same, but one can point to his minutes as an inhibiting factor on that side.

"I'm sure he didn't expect that this year," Karnišovas said of his minutes. "But he's gonna approach this offseason and he's gonna come back and get better."

White didn't expect it, seeing as he said his conditioning needs improvement following the Bulls' loss to the Heat on Friday.

"I think one thing I need to work on, probably this offseason, is just focusing on my conditioning," White said. "I don't think anything I could've done this past offseason would've prepared me for the amount of minutes and load that I had this year. For me, now moving forward, I just need to work on my conditioning and make sure I'm prepared for anything coming into the season."

In a season highlighted by major injuries to LaVine and Williams, as well as Ball's continued absence, the Bulls needed someone to step up. White was that guy. As Karnišovas said, he was a major factor in keeping the Bulls in the playoff hunt, despite their injuries and a paltry 5-14 start to the season.

His on-court production, leadership and unwavering mentality through adversity will earn White a spot on the team through an uncertain phase. It should earn him the title of a "building block" in the foundation of whichever route the Bulls' front office takes the next team, too.

You can argue the same for Dosunmu and Caruso, who also performed extremely well this season. Depending on which Bulls fan you talk to, you could say the same for DeRozan and Vucevic, also.

But White is blossoming quickly on an extremely friendly contract. The Bulls should embrace his presence.

"I feel like I'm just proud of my growth overall and getting better as the season went on," White said.

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