Celtics player spotlight: How Derrick White can maximize his role in Boston

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Celtics player spotlight: How Derrick White can maximize his role in Boston originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The Boston Celtics acquiring Derrick White at last year's trade deadline helped to fuel their second-half surge. The 28-year-old will look to add a similar spark in his first full season with Boston.

White will be part of a suddenly-loaded Celtics backcourt that includes Marcus Smart, Payton Pritchard, and the newly-acquired Malcolm Brogdon. He could see a slight dip in playing time as a result, but White still will be leaned on to bring a defensive boost off the bench. Improvement in the shooting department would be icing on the cake.

Offseason spotlights: Jayson Tatum | Al Horford | Jaylen Brown | Robert Williams | Marcus Smart | Malcolm Brogdon

Here's a look at White's past accomplishments and how the former San Antonio Spurs guard can maximize his role with the Celtics in 2022-23.

White's 2021-22 stats

  • Regular season: 13.2 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 4.9 apg, 1.0 spg, 42.1 percent FG, 31.2 percent 3PT (49 games with SAS, 26 with BOS)

  • Postseason: 8.5 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 2.7 apg, 0.9 spg, 36.4 percent FG, 31.3 percent 3PT

White's contract situation

White is set to make about $16.4 million in 2022-23 after signing a four-year, $70 million contract extension with the San Antonio Spurs in Dec. 2020. He is under contract with Boston through the 2024-25 season.

What role will White play on the 2022-23 Celtics?

Unless White is dealt before the season (perhaps in a package for Kevin Durant?) he once again will be a key contributor off the bench.

This time, however, newly-acquired guard Malcolm Brogdon will steal some of White's minutes. Brogdon will serve as the sixth man while Marcus Smart starts at point guard, at least to begin the 2022-23 campaign.

Celtics Talk: Why trading Jaylen Brown for Kevin Durant is no slam dunk | Listen & Subscribe | Watch on YouTube

Even if his playing time takes a hit, White will still play a significant role as a defender. His versatility on the defensive end fit perfectly with the Celtics' identity last season and was a major reason they sailed to the No. 2 seed in the East and made a run at Banner 18.

White's season will be a success if ...

... He carves out a consistent role off the bench.

The Celtics suddenly are loaded with guard depth following the acquisition of Brogdon. Smart and Brogdon are the top two guards in the pecking order, then it's White and Payton Pritchard. White's minutes almost certainly will take a hit as a result.

Still, as we saw last season, White's defensive versatility allows him to be on the floor alongside Smart and we should see him on the floor with Brogdon fairly often. If anything, the addition of Brogdon takes the pressure off White to perform offensively and allows him to focus on his strengths.

Biggest obstacle to White's success

Shooting struggles.

We know what White brings to the table defensively. It's the reason the Celtics were fine with giving up a better shooter -- Josh Richardson -- as part of a package to acquire White at last year's trade deadline. Still, there's no doubt Boston wants to see more offensive consistency from White next season.

White shot 40.9 percent from the floor and 30.6 percent from 3 in his 26 regular-season games with the C's. He posted a 36.4 FG% and 31.3 3P% in the playoffs. The hope is there's a noticeable improvement in his first full season in Boston.

Projected stats and prediction for White's 2022-23 season

Projected stats: 10.3 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 3.1 apg, 0.8 spg, 41.3 percent FG, 31 percent 3PT

As cliche as it may sound, White's impact is felt beyond the box score. His defense is a noticeable difference-maker and outweighs his shortcomings on the offensive side. That said, the Celtics would love to see White take a step forward as a shooter. That was a glaring weakness last season and if he can improve those shooting percentages just a tad, it will go a long way toward bringing a spark off a C's bench that lacked a scoring punch in the 2022 NBA playoffs.