Bulls draft UNC guard White, who should fit well in Boylen system
AThere were some twists and trades in the hours before the NBA draft, but the Bulls still ended up with an expected result.
They chose North Carolina point guard Coby White with the No. 7 pick. Of course, the team's last first-rounder from UNC was Michael Jordan in 1984.
Ht: 6-5; Wt: 185
Pos: PG; Age: 19
School: North Carolina
Hometown: Goldsboro, N.C.
White arrives with plenty of Bulls connections. He scored more points as a freshman at UNC than Michael Jordan and broke the North Carolina high school scoring record held by forgettable second-round pick JamesOn Curry. ... White averaged 16.1 points, 4.1 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 2.7 turnovers last season. He shot 35.3 percent from 3-point range while averaging 6.6 attempts per game. ... White scored 30 points three times last season, with a high of 34 against Syracuse on Feb. 26. ... White knows Bulls center Wendell Carter Jr. from their time with Chris Paul's Team CP3 AAU program, although they didn't play on the same team.
Ht: 6-11; Wt: 233
Pos: C/PF; Age: 20
Hometown: El Dorado, Ark.
An athletic big man, Gafford averaged 16.9 points, 8.7 rebounds and 2.0 blocks last season as a sophomore. ... He was a highly-regarded high school recruit and considered entering the NBA Draft after his freshman season. ... Best game last year was 29 points and 16 rebounds against Alabama in the regular season finale. ... He skipped Arkansas' two NIT games to prepare for the draft.
-- Mike McGraw
The two players have little in common, besides being homegrown Tar Heels. But when asked about the Jordan history, White was ready with the correct answer for a Chicago audience.
"Michael Jordan was the best player to ever do it," he said via phone from Brooklyn. "So I'm definitely blessed."
In the second round, the Bulls chose Arkansas' Daniel Gafford, an athletic 6-11 center-power forward.
White is a safe pick for the Bulls. In many ways, he's a good fit with the current roster since he likes to play at a fast pace. New Bulls coach Jim Boylen went back and forth with pace last season, but often said he prefers to play slow on the road.
White has a chance to be a good outside shooter, which fits with the trend in the NBA. He shot 35.5 percent from 3-point range last season, but with 6.6 attempts per game.
In theory, the Bulls don't need a playmaking point guard. They had some success last season letting Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen bring the ball up and try to put the defense on its heels. If White can push the pace when he gets the ball and sit back as a spot-up shooter when he doesn't, his skills could help the Bulls.
White visited the Advocate Center last weekend. He said he did not work out, beyond some combine testing, but thoroughly enjoyed his meeting with Boylen.
"I learned that he's my type of coach, man," White said. "Straightforward, gets down to business, very hands on, which I loved. He studied my games, showed me film on the white board, showed me everything that I can work on, everything that's going to translate.
"I loved it. It was the best individual meeting I had with a coach. I love a coach that's going to push you to the limits."
One potential problem is the Bulls already had a point guard of the future in Kris Dunn. After a disappointing season, it seemed logical for the Bulls to pursue a veteran point guard in free-agency and maybe switch Dunn to a backup role.
With White on board, the Bulls will probably attempt to trade Dunn before the season begins, although his value is low right now. Using White and Dunn without help from a veteran doesn't figure to push the rebuilding plan forward.
Dunn and White share the same agent, and there wasn't much White could say Thursday about any potential competition in training camp.
"For sure, I've been competing all my life within the team," White said. "When I got to Carolina, I had to compete for a starting spot. Competing, it's in my blood, it's in my DNA. We're going to go at it for sure. Kris Dunn's a great player. But I just can't wait to get there and get to work."
White released a story last week on The Player's Tribune describing how difficult it was to lose his father Donald to liver cancer about a year ago.
"He'd be telling me how proud he was for me and how he loved me," White said. "He'd just tell me this is only the beginning for me, I've got a lot of success coming my way. I've just got to continue to stay on the right path."
White scored more points as a freshmen at North Carolina than Jordan did, although White didn't match Jordan's national title. In high school, White passed former Bulls draft pick JamesOn Curry to become the state's all-time leading scorer.
The night got off to a eventful start, with two picks ahead of the Bulls changing hands. First, Atlanta acquired the No. 4 selection from New Orleans in exchange for picks No. 8, 17 and 35. The Hawks also took forward Solomon Hill and his $13.3 million salary off the Pelicans' hands.
Then Minnesota snared the No. 6 pick from Phoenix in exchange for No. 11 and forward Dario Saric.
As expected, Zion Williamson was chosen first overall by New Orleans. Then Memphis chose Murray State point guard Ja Morant with the second pick and Duke's R.J. Barrett went third to New York.
Virginia forward DeAndre Hunter went fourth and wore a Lakers hat, but he'll eventually land in Atlanta. Cleveland took Vanderbilt guard Darius Garland fifth.
There were a couple minutes of suspense, with no clear favorite for Minnesota at No. 6. The Timberwolves settled on Texas Tech's Jarrett Culver, leaving White for the Bulls.