White's role changes, leads to career high in assists

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Chicago Bulls' Coby White fouls Toronto Raptors' Malcolm Miller during the first half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Dec. 9, 2019, in Chicago.

    Chicago Bulls' Coby White fouls Toronto Raptors' Malcolm Miller during the first half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Dec. 9, 2019, in Chicago.

 
 
Updated 12/9/2019 9:56 PM

Coby White hit a milestone Sunday against Miami, recording a career-high 8 assists.

Does that mean White is ready to be more of a point guard, the position he was identified with before the draft?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Well, yes and no. Bulls coach Jim Boylen talked about the rookie from North Carolina taking on more of a ballhandling role with the second unit, since Kris Dunn has been starting the last five games.

And White's assist prowess needs to be confirmed. His previous high of 7 assists came on opening night at Charlotte. His third-best assist total is 4, which he has done just once, against the Lakers.

"We're taking this very methodically with Coby," Boylen said. "Didn't give him a whole bunch of titles or he's going to be this or that. He's going to come out and play basketball, and I think he's done that pretty well for the first 24 games.

"With our adjustment to the starting lineup where our primary ballhandler in the second group went to the first group, we adjusted on the second group where I think he needs to take more of a lead-guard dominant, ballhandler role. I think it's a good time for it, I think it fits. He's ready for it."

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White's best skill is still probably his scoring, so the lead-guard transition will likely be a slow one. Something the Bulls have gotten better at recently is creating mismatches where he can drive past his defender and get to the hoop.

"His speed is an asset and if we can get some shooting around him in that second unit, I think it will be a good (lineup) for us again," Boylen said. "We'd like to play fast with that second group."

White better in one area:

Identifying progress in Coby White's game is a tricky proposition. He had that three-quarters explosion in November when he might have been the hottest 3-point shooter in league history, but he has never come close to duplicating that feat.

The hot streak happened on Nov. 12 and 14, when he hit a combined 12 of 16 shots from long range in the fourth quarter against the Knicks and first two quarters at Milwaukee. If you divide White's season into before and after the hot streak, his numbers only changed significantly in one category.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

In the 10 games before the shooting spree, White averaged 11.1 points, 2.4 assists and shot 21.2 percent from 3-point range.

In 12 games since the hot streak, White averaged 11.2 points, 2.3 assists and shot 39.7 percent from 3-point range. So, basically, White has gotten a lot more consistent with his long-range shooting but has otherwise been the same guy all season with one flurry of historic 3-point shooting.

Incorrect calls in Miami:

In the NBA's last two-minute report from the Miami game Sunday, the review said the Bulls should have been assessed a technical foul with 7.1 seconds left in regulation because Tomas Satoransky briefly signaled for a timeout the Bulls didn't have. The referee standing closest to Satoransky ignored the timeout call and the Bulls inbounded the ball.

"I saw the other two-minute report thing where they said (Miami's Kendrick) Nunn fouled Zach (LaVine)," coach Jim Boylen said before Monday's game. "To me, that's a lot more interesting than the timeout. That game's over."

The Nunn no-call happened with 15.2 seconds left in the fourth quarter when LaVine drove to the basket while the Bulls led by 1. The referee's call was Miami ball out of bounds, while LaVine pointed to the videoboard looking for a replay.

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