Derrick White is finally looking like himself again

Derrick White didn’t look like himself to start the season, at least on offense. He was dishing out a decent amount of assists, but he was struggling with his shot and was mostly a non-factor when it came to attacking the rim. It seemed like he was lost in the starting unit and perhaps a move to the bench would benefit him.

Luckily the coaching staff was patient with him, because in the past few games White has been exactly the player the Spurs were hoping he would be, looking as active and confident on offense as he had been on defense. Mostly by playing with increased aggressiveness with the ball in his hands, White has re-established himself as a featured option and as the one player who could help the team play to its maximum potential.

A bad individual performance can sometimes be easily ignored, but the reason why White’s was affecting the team on offense is because he’s arguably the Spurs most important player on that end due to his versatility. Jakob Poeltl is a screener and finisher. Dejounte Murray is a primary ball handler who does enough to not kill the team off the ball. Doug McDermott and Keldon Johnson, in different ways, are weak side threats. The bench is filled with finishers with still raw shot creation skills. What that roster needs to click is a reliable secondary ball handler who can take over when needed. In theory, White fit the bill.

Unfortunately, early on, he wasn’t doing either of those jobs. For some reason he seemed extremely timid when it came to running pick and rolls and generally going downhill, almost as if he was playing at half speed. His troubles with injury and the lack of confidence that followed partially explain why. Spending the last year playing next to Dejounte Murray and DeMar DeRozan and working on reshaping his game to be more of a shooter probably had an impact as well. Whatever the reason, White’s lack of aggression was a huge hindrance to his game. In the first two months of the season, he was averaging under 11 drives per game and scoring at a 38 percent clip on those situations while only getting two free throws a game.

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