Breaking down why Bulls' White, LaVine haven't been great together so far

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • The biggest storyline being missed with the Bulls right now was the chance for rookie Coby White and top scorer Zach LaVine to start together for the first time. When they shared the court earlier this season, the results weren't great.

    The biggest storyline being missed with the Bulls right now was the chance for rookie Coby White and top scorer Zach LaVine to start together for the first time. When they shared the court earlier this season, the results weren't great. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 3/17/2020 7:20 PM

We've reached the one-week point in the NBA's suspended season.

The Bulls have missed three games and would be getting ready to host Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat on Wednesday.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

So what have we missed? Well, the overwhelming storyline when the season stopped was rookie Coby White -- his hot streak, ascension to the starting lineup and anticipated pairing with Zach LaVine in the starting lineup. Hopefully, LaVine is healthy enough by now to where he could have returned from a left quad strain.

As a refresher, here are White's numbers in the last eight games the Bulls played: 25.3 points, 4.8 assists, .478 field-goal percentage, .412 3-point percentage, .889 free-throw percentage.

Time will tell if White can keep that up over a longer term. Bulls fans are well-aware Lauri Markkanen had a brilliant 14-game stretch last season and didn't come close to matching that this year.

In theory, White's improvement does give the Bulls some hope for the future. The idea is to collect pieces to turn the Bulls into a winning team, and a dynamic backcourt of White and LaVine would be a start.

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As far as high-scoring backcourts go, any pair would have a hard time matching Houston's James Harden (34.4 ppg) and Russell Westbrook (27.5). Next on the list would be Portland's Damian Lillard (28.9) and C.J. McCollum (22.5).

So there's some potential to LaVine and White as a future dynamic duo. They didn't share the starting lineup this season, but did play together plenty of times. But the results weren't very good.

Let's start by looking at the Bulls' best two-man lineups on nba.com, rank them by net rating and accept combinations that played at least 150 minutes together.

LaVine and White rank 60th out of 68 possible two-man lineups with a net rating of minus-9.9. That's the net points scored per 100 possessions while those two are on the court together.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

What we've seen so far of White-LaVine hasn't been great, but White's improvement was sudden. Most of the White-LaVine minutes happened when the rookie guard was struggling to find his way.

The Bulls' lineup data tells a pretty consistent story -- defense matters. A vast majority of their best two-man lineups include either Shaq Harrison, Kris Dunn or Wendell Carter Jr., the team's three best defenders.

White appears in just two two-man lineups with a positive net rating. But White-Harrison actually ranks No. 1. The rest of the top five are Harrison-Markkanen, Dunn-Tomas Satoransky, Satoransky-Otto Porter and Satoransky-Harrison.

LaVine has a positive net rating in three two-man lineups, when he's paired with Porter, Carter and Harrison.

Let's try three- and four-man lineups. Who can the Bulls add to LaVine and White to make a successful lineup? And let's drop the minutes requirement to 75, otherwise Harrison and Porter drop out completely since they haven't played as much this season.

The only three-man lineup with a positive net rating that includes both White and LaVine is with injured center Luke Kornet. Otherwise, the best third wheel is Satoransky.

Satoransky-Dunn-Carter and Satoransky-Dunn-LaVine are two of the Bulls' top three-man lineups and those are guys who started for most of the season.

The Bulls' most effective four-man lineup is Satoransky, LaVine, Dunn and Carter, not surprisingly. The best four-man lineup with both White and LaVine also includes Satoransky and veteran Thad Young.

The main conclusion here is White and LaVine need a lot more time on the court together. Hopefully that can happen for a bit if the NBA season resumes.

It also emphasizes one of the Bulls' primary lineup issues. Satoransky does a lot of good things, but a Satoransky-LaVine backcourt really needs Dunn or Harrison on the floor to take the most difficult defensive assignment. How that works moving forward with White in the starting lineup remains to be seen.

Relive the past

NBC Sports Chicago announced plans to replay the 15 victories from the Bulls' 1996 championship run. The series begins Wednesday with Game 1 of the first round against Miami and will run every other night at 7 p.m., alternating with Blackhawks games from their 2010 title run.

Keep in mind this is victories only. So if you're looking for the Game 3 loss at New York in the second round or the two losses in Seattle during the Finals, you'll be disappointed.

Twitter: @McGrawDHBulls

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