White's great quarter shouldn't cloud Bulls' big picture
Coby White has produced some memorable highlights so far in his rookie season.
Topping the charts was Tuesday's fourth-quarter outburst against the New York Knicks. White, 19, became the youngest player in NBA history to knock down 7 3-pointers in a game, and he did it all in the fourth quarter. White made 7 of 8 shots from behind the arch as the Bulls rolled to a 120-102 victory.
He's the third teenager to hit 7 NBA 3s in a game, joining Luka Doncic and Anfernee Simons, according to basketball-reference.com. Both were about a month older than White when they did it. Lauri Markkanen is the ninth-youngest player to accomplish the feat, which he did on Jan. 10, 2018.
White got off to a nice start this season by scoring a combined 42 points in the first two games against Charlotte and Memphis. What's problematic is what happened in Games 3-10.
Maybe I was permanently damaged by sitting through the Bulls' early 2000s rebuild, but White's hot shooting Tuesday sent out some red flags.
In the eight-game stretch before that, the 6-foot-7 guard from North Carolina was ice cold. White averaged 8.6 points, shot 28 percent from the field overall and 15 percent from 3-point range (6 for 40) over an eight-game stretch.
Maybe he'll build off this amazing performance, maybe he won't. But it's way too soon to say White has shown what he can do in the NBA. One great quarter once every three weeks is more a sign that someone is not a good NBA player.
Personally, I call this the "Marcus Fizer syndrome." Fizer was the No. 4 overall draft pick in 2000 who didn't last long in the NBA but did produce the Bulls' only 30-point, 20-rebound game over a 20-year span from 1992-2012.
And it's not even fair to pick on Fizer. You could name this after Jay Williams, Eddie Robinson, Tyrus Thomas, Tony Snell, James Johnson and many others in recent Bulls history.
The message is basically just to celebrate responsibly. It's easy to get caught up in how well someone played in one particular game. It was a needed win over the lowly Knicks, but White has a long way to go as an NBA player.
Asked what White has to do to stay on the right track and not be a one-quarter wonder, Bulls coach Jim Boylen took a different perspective.
"I don't look at it like maybe he had a good moment here and then two weeks later he had a good moment here," Boylen said Wednesday at the Advocate Center. "I see good moments in every game. I see growth in every game, whether it's defensively or decision-making.
"We are trying to get quality shots on goal; we're trying to get the ball to the paint and make good decisions. That's how I evaluate this team. If I evaluate on just the ball going in every two or three weeks, I think I'd be shortsighted. He's a 19-year-old player, playing in the NBA and he's doing his best to help us win."
The great NBA players bring an A-plus performance every night, and the Bulls will see one of those Thursday when they face Giannis Antetokounmpo in Milwaukee. The good ones are at their best on most nights and everyone else is pretty much a role player. The Bulls obviously are hoping White can be a key piece to the current rebuild.
"Not only was he (White) getting it going, I thought we were playing really solid defense, caused a lot of turnovers where we were able to get out in transition and get some easy baskets," Bulls guard Ryan Arcidiacono said. "It's tough to win in this league. I don't care who you're playing against."
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Outlook: The Bucks received some bad news this week that SG Khris Middleton will be sidelined 3-4 weeks with a left-thigh contusion. The injury happened in Sunday's victory at Oklahoma City, and this will be their first game without him. ... Otherwise, Milwaukee (7-3) is off to a good start. Last year's MVP, Giannis Antetokounmpo, is averaging 29.7 points, 14.3 rebounds and 6.8 assists. All of those numbers would be career highs if they hold up. Middleton (18.5 ppg) is the team's second-leading scorer, followed by PG Eric Bledsoe at 16.3 ppg. Ex-Bulls Robin Lopez and Kyle Korver are contributing off the bench. ... The Bulls have lost six straight in the series.
Next: Brooklyn Nets, Saturday 5 p.m. at the United Center
-- Mike McGraw