Bulls' Coby White credits patience, Mo Cheeks for strong stretch

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Rob Schaefer
·4 min read
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Update your settings here to see it.

Coby White credits patience, Mo Cheeks for strong stretch originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

In five games since Zach LaVine entered the NBA's COVID-19 health and safety protocol, Coby White is averaging 17.2 points, 6.4 assists and shooting 42.4 percent from 3-point range -- the Bulls' second-leading scorer and top assist man in a 3-2 stretch.

In four of those games, White has committed one turnover or less (averaging 1.4 for a superb 4.57-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio), including a zero-turnover night against the Hornets on Thursday. He's cleared 18 points three times after previously not doing so since March 11. And in a recent, hard-fought win over the Boston Celtics, he made timely defensive plays and clutch free throws in closing time.

If such a span didn't seem possible earlier this season... Well, you simply weren't trusting the process.

"In today's day and age, everybody just wants it to happen now. And I feel like certain things is a process," White said. "Everybody doesn't figure it out on the fly. For me, I'm still learning, I'm still growing. I've had ups and downs, but I'm going to continue to keep learning and growing and be that sponge."

That jibes with the mentality White, 21, has espoused since his rookie season, which also featured its share of rocky stretches. After enduring a 39-game run with only one 20-point outing between Nov. 23, 2019 and Feb. 20, 2020, he burst out in the final nine games of his first year, averaging 26.1 points and supplanting Tomáš Satoranský for the team's starting point guard spot.

White held that gig until March 12 of his second season before Billy Donovan moved him and Wendell Carter Jr. (since traded) to reserve roles in favor of Satoranský and Thad Young. After an early jolt, White struggled while oscillating between varied lineup combinations and fluctuating minutes.

But now, in search of offensive juice without LaVine, Donovan has inserted him back in with the first unit alongside Garrett Temple, and the early returns on increased opportunity have shown. The Bulls' new, slow-it-down style, which is centered around Nikola Vučević and producing less turnovers overall, has White playing at a more assured pace. His bread and butter (44.4 percent on catch-and-shoot 3s in his last five games) is whirring. And though missed reads still dot the tape, so does White's commitment to self-correction.

This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Update your settings here to see it.

Plus, Bulls assistant coach Mo Cheeks stays on his case.

"He's still on me. He challenges me," White said of Cheeks. "Today he was talking he was like, 'I don't care about last game. I care about this game. Can you be consistent?'

"Mo talks a lot of crap, as I would say. But he keeps challenging me each and every game. I'm the type of dude, you challenge me, don't think I can do something, or if I feel like you don't think I can do something, I'm going to go out there and prove it to you that I can. That's just how I am."

There are certainly worse mentors for a young guard to lean on than Cheeks, a Hall of Fame point guard in his day. His biggest piece of on-court advice, White says, is to "never have the same turnover twice," but the two talk frequently about life outside of basketball as well.

"I spend a lot of time talking to Mo," White said. "I know y'all (reporters) 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 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."

This stretch of strong play has come at the right time for the Bulls, who, still without LaVine for an undetermined amount of time, remain afloat in the play-in race. But 10 of their final 13 games come against teams with above-.500 records.

So, as Cheeks would say, the key for White -- and the Bulls -- is to sustain.

"I know what I want to be," White said. "And in order to do that I've got to continue to grow and develop and continue to listen."

Click here to subscribe to the Bulls Talk Podcast for free.

Download

Download MyTeams Today!