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Thread: Tbird 2017 NBA Draft Analysis #6: Derrick White

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    Default Tbird 2017 NBA Draft Analysis #6: Derrick White

    Tonight we head to the Rocky Mountains to take a deep dive on one of this years best and most unlikely draft stories, guard Derrick White out of the University of Colorado. In previous editions of this years draft articles I have profiled Bam Adebayo, T.J. Leaf, OG Anunoby, Semi Ojeleye, and Luke Kennard. You can find those articles and ones from previous drafts elsewhere on this site or with some creative use of “Google”.

    It is hard to imagine a much more unlikely rise up draft boards than White has made since this picture was taken early in his high school career at Legend High in Parker, Colorado:

    Entering his high school as a young 14 year old, he was barely 5’6. Even after graduating his senior year as one of the better players in Colorado, his coaches and parents couldn’t find a scholarship for him to continue his career. No one wanted the diminutive guard, who had at least grown to 5’11 and 155lbs by then. No one that is except for Coach Jeff Culver, who coached at a Culinary school in Denver for an NAIA program. Culver offered White a scholarship at the tiny chef training school, but then fate intervened and Culver was hired at Division 2 school University of Colorado-Colorado Springs. Culver, still intrigued by the confident, studious, and committed White, offered him a $3,000 partial scholarship, and White’s basketball career continued at low level college basketball.

    One of the reasons Culver was intrigued by White was his genes. Richard, his father, had gone on a rare during college growth spurt, and he looked at Derrick’s hand size and thought maybe he’d get lucky and gain an inch or two upon graduation. It turned out that The White’s doctors were correct in telling the family that Derrick’s growth plates seemed to indicate he’d make it to 6’4 or so, because that is exactly what happened for Derrick, as he grew to his current height after graduating high school before he turned 18.

    A gym rat at an early age, White’s skills continued to grow under Culver and a long time personal trainer/skills coach named Marcus Mason, who had been working with Derrick since age 12. Learning skills at a young age that helped him mitigate his small stature gave him the guard skills needed to embarrass defenders with his handle and technique, and now with the added size, his jump shot began to blossom. White sooned turned into one of the best players in Division 2 basketball by the end of his junior year.

    Still, Division 2 to the NBA is a big stretch. With a very skinny frame still and with low level competition to challenge him, he began to look for Division 1 transfer opportunities, and found one in Boulder, playing in the Pac 12 for the Colorado Buffaloes. That move enabled him to red-shirt a year and take advantage of the nutritional and strength program of a major D1 school, which totally transformed his body from rail thin to playable, and unlocked an athleticism that he had never really shown before.




    Playing this year in the same conference as Lonzo Ball and Markelle Fultz, White more than held his own. In fact, only 4 players in the country averaged 18ppg, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists: consensus number 1 pick Markelle Fultz, likely top 10 pick Dennis Smith, national player of the year Frank Mason, and yes…..the unlikely story from Parker Colorado, Derrick White.

    So now, on the precipice of fulfilling his NBA dream, White still had to prove himself this spring. His coaches and agents fought hard to get him invited to Portsmouth, where he dominated. That earned him a prestigious invite to the NBA combine, where he shined in ways both expected to scouts who watched him all year, but in unexpected ways no one had verified until now.

    His shot making, playmaking, and quiet leadership qualities all stood out at the NBA combine, as he excelled in the 5 on 5 competitions. That wasn’t a real shock to me, but what was surprising was some of his workout numbers: top 3% all time in the sprint, and top 1% all time in the standing vertical. The vertical abilities you could see on tape, the sprint was a surprise to me admittedly. White has continued to wow scouts and management types with his interviews and private workouts in the process leading up to next Thursday.

    The question now for his parents (Richard and Colleen) and sister Brianna, along with the entire state of Colorado really is this: has he played his way into much higher than any of us expected? I spent most of the winter hoping he’d be there for us in the 2nd round, because on tape I like him alot….but as other players fell off the radar and White continues to improve, he now has to at least be discussed at pick #18.

    Derrick White is an older prospect, a rare college senior, and will turn 23 years old on July 2. Some will consider that older age a negative, and usually I do too…..but other teams will look at it as having contractual control of a player for his prime ages at a cheaper price. He measured in at 6’4 ½ inches at the NBA combine, and is up to 190lbs, though he still clearly needs to add 20 lbs more or so in my judgment to reach maximum effectiveness.

    Great story...but can he play in the NBA? Let’s take a deep dive on the intriguing combo guard from the mountains down below:

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    There are a ton of positives to White’s game, first and foremost being his size for a point guard…..he will be one of the bigger point guards in the league height wise. That size enables White to see up over the defense, where he excels at carving teams up with his high level passing skills. There is no pass on the basketball floor that White can’t make, and his assist totals would’ve been higher if Colorado wasn’t so clunky on offense.



    He has a definite dose of “old man” game in him. He can turn his back to the defense and still see cutters, and deliver the ball by the earhole of defenders not paying attention off the ball. He can easily do the no looks, the pocket passes, the drop offs, and anything cross court…..White “sees” the entirety of the floor…...the court is at maximum size for his eyes, and he can throw guys open with his passing acumen and accuracy.

    White is not, however, dynamic with the ball like a John Wall or someone….he lacks that unbelievable burst of extreme speed that the elite guards have. He is quick in general but the ball does slow him down a bit, and his size has become a crutch for him to not have to make his handles elite. To use a baseball analogy, he is a pitcher, not a thrower, and he doesn’t have the big time fastball. Instead, he mixes his speeds, uses all the tricks and deception things you hope your vets eventually learn.

    The lack of bursting breakaway speed is real though, and it limits him. You can’t isolate him and expect him to make a play at this level. White is going to need a ballscreen in general to gain separation. Even in that scenario, switch happy teams will be able to contain him mostly, as he lacks the downhill genes to blow by and get pieces of the paint against all but the worst bigs. Still, he has plenty of wiggle and shake and bake, and his off the dribble shooting game is pretty damn good…..39.6% from the 3 point line, 81.3% from the foul line as well, so his shot numbers will translate I think.




    Speaking of his shot, it’s fun to watch. Very much a product of one of the new school methods of teaching shooting, White is very much a “sweep and sway” jump shooter. He arches his upper body back a bit, and throws his feet forward a bit, giving you that “sway” effect that enables him to get his elbow and feet all in line with the rim. You can find all sorts of training videos online if you want to look that up and see visually what I mean. White is a fine shooter, but I hesitate to call him “elite” just because he can’t square in the air that well….he pretty much needs to be facing the basket on the catch, or he has to fully “square up” on the ground before the release. I think part of the reason his percentages from deep are so good is that he does a great job of taking high quality shots….not many bad 3 point attempts from White that I have seen.

    He will sometimes struggle with his jumper because he often bends his shooting wrist to his right rather than straight down….but he has grooved it by now, and as long as his fingers and elbow stay in line I wouldn’t worry about it too much. Still, you can see what I mean in this picture:



    He will shoot good enough that people will need to close out on him hard, and I actually project him to shoot the three ball at a high percentage in the NBA as he gets more reps and more time to work on his game away from the academic pressure of college. And when they do close out on him out of control, White possesses a big weapon: the best shot fake in the draft.

    Of course, he is a major weapon after getting by the defense, with his size, passing ability, and touch. He has the floater game already, though his lack of premier athleticism means that big length near the rim can bother him some. White though is a top shelf passer once he gets you in a disadvantage number, so all of those skills play up…..and occasionally, he will just fly over everyone and dunk on you, just to show you he can.

    White lacks “suddenness” and strength. The strength can develop over time, but the suddenness likely won’t, and that will keep from being an elite offensive point guard….but his size and IQ, shot making and passing skills all translate well. He can play today offensively in the backcourt of really good teams, but like all of these draftees, system and personnel around him as long as development will make a big difference in his success.

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    Defensively is where the questions come in. It isn’t all bad, but there are weaknesses here to plan around if you draft him.

    First, let’s get the negatives out of the way about his defense. To begin with, despite having actual elite athleticism in a few areas, he doesn’t have it in his defensive slide. As a longer guard he does play upright at times, and I wonder if his hips are a little tight….if I had him, I’d work alot with speed training guys to see if I could unlock his hips, and get him to be consistently lower to the ground. He might even want to think about yoga, I kid you not.




    Next, quite frankly, he has to try harder. I hate guys who coast on defense, even though I realize he had to play huge minutes and carry a big burden. White flashes capability in sliding his feet at times, and I think more is there to be coached out of him, but he has to maintain his concentration better. And then obviously, as previously mentioned, he has to gain weight so these NBA guards don’t just jump through his sternum and deposit him into the the camera people. Plus, as I project to have to defend some 2 guards, the added strength will help him fight through screens better, which is a weakness right now. He is quick enough to be hard to screen...but when one actually hits him on tape it just engulfs him.

    But, there are some high level positives defensively for him too. White has big time quick hands, and knows that steals come “outside the man”.....he reads passing lanes well and deflects the ball on the pass. Next, his length, if he is guarding a point guard, is real. 6’7 ½ is small for a wing, but high level for a point guard. Also, while he no question wasn’t a lock down guy all of the time, he clearly is a scouting report defender and player in general. I thought I saw clearly on tape his ability to read plays as they happen the opponent ran, and I bet he is a guy who digests info quickly and obsessively on the opponents. That is a real skill.

    Lastly, you have this standing vertical test. People, the ability to jump high and jump quickly from a standing position is a fantastic defensive skill, and it is why he is one of the best shotblocking guards in this draft by the numbers. It is a skill OG Anunoby has, it is a skill Markelle Fultz has, and White has it too. Add the jumping ability to his length and you at least have someone who can contest shots well and at least make players uncomfortable if he is guarding them. I wouldn’t call him a “rim protector” exactly, but he is a disruptor at least, and if he is near the basket, he will sky up to guard you.

    White also has alot of little things in his game that I like. He rebounds well for a guard, and when he gets the board he can push it on his own. He has exceptional balance, and keeps his head over his feet with the dribble, so he can see the floor. He is an enthusiastic bench guy, a gym rat, and he isn’t afraid of anything or anyone on the floor. White isn’t demonstrative or particularly vocal like you’d want him to be ideally, but he is mature, smart, and tough. Defensively, I think you’d ideally play him as defending point guards, but he has enough size and savvy to let him defend 2’s in a cross match situation or if you went small. In a perfect situation, you’d want him to be your worst perimeter defender on the floor. You also don’t want him pressuring people up the floor, a more conservative scheme would suit him better, as his length and bounciness lets him back off people a little more than the average guy. He shoots it well as a spot up guy and off screens, so if you have another primary ballhandler to pair him with when he is in the game that would be ideal.


    So, what do you have in total with Derrick White?

    I think you have a guy who, when you watch him, the song “Smooth Operator” comes into your head. I view him as a backup guard with some skill versatility, and he could start in some specific cities with elite players around him. I think there are defensive areas of concern, but those can be mitigated and coached around mostly, and offensively he has a wide variety of NBA skills, either off the ball with a better more dynamic attacker, or as a bigger point guard. I like the player, like the kid, and value his IQ. I don’t see him as a starter for a good team, but as a backup guard for a smart, well coached team that moves the ball and uses his “Baskin Robbins” variety of skills, I think he’d be a nice piece.



    For Indiana, at pick #18, not having to spend huge money on a backup point guard is very valuable. White is mature enough emotionally to play minutes right away, and actually if you pair him with both Paul and Lance, he fits well with their skill sets, especially on offense, as his spot up shooting goes well with Lance’s ability to run some things as a quasi lead guard. Paul is an elite defender, so he could hide White to some degree. I can see it making sense.

    Having said that, I’d recommend Indiana go for something with a little more upside than interesting 3rd guard/backup point guard at #18, and I do think they’ll be riskier but higher upside picks for Indiana to take. In our circumstances this year, I think I’d go for someone with either a clearer path to starting eventually or someone who totally fits what we need, instead of just mostly fitting like White seemingly does. I’d ponder it, and I wouldn’t hate it if we took him since I like the kid, and think he plays 6-8 years in the league…..but I’d pass.

    If we would somehow see him available at #47, I’d sprint to the podium to take him. And if we somehow acquire a pick between 25-35, he likely would be a prime target of mine. Indiana has indeed shown interest and worked him out back in May, so we know he is on their radar.

    White fits well lots of places with his smargasboard of talents. Milwaukee at #17 would be interesting. His best fit actually is Philadelphia I think, and in my mind I think the Sixers trade some second rounds picks to move up to take White somewhere in the 20’s….maybe with Portland at pick #26, who may be willing to trade out.

    NBA comparable: Lots of guys come to mind who are close. I think he has an overall offensive game similar to Jeremy Lin...but I think he will defend a bit better than Lin. This will be a comparison some of you hate, but he has some Anthony Johnson to his game and size. I think his character is very high, similar to a pick I nailed a few years ago in Orlando Johnson. But in the end I’ll say he reminds me the most of:

    Rudy Fernandez….a player Coach McMillan knows well.

    As always, this is just my opinion only….feel free to discuss in the comments below.

    Tbird


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  3. #2

    Default Re: Tbird 2017 NBA Draft Analysis #6: Derrick White

    This is the second deep dive we've taken. Hopefully everyone's a good swimmer around here! I'm not sure I can handle another deep dive....please give us a warning before the next one so I can come prepared. Need to look into buying some scuba gear.

    Thanks

  4. #3
    It is ka Thankee sai Major Cold's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tbird 2017 NBA Draft Analysis #6: Derrick White

    If Pritchard wheels and deals I can see him being picked up in the bottom half of the 1st. Has he worked out for the team yet?

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    Formerly PacerFanInAZ Cactus Jax's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tbird 2017 NBA Draft Analysis #6: Derrick White

    Quote Originally Posted by Major Cold View Post
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    If Pritchard wheels and deals I can see him being picked up in the bottom half of the 1st. Has he worked out for the team yet?
    "Indiana has indeed shown interest and worked him out back in May, so we know he is on their radar."

    From later on in the post.

    There are better options at 18 but a late 1st or early 2nd round pick would be pretty nice to use, and I trust Pritchard that if he likes the guy to buy into a pick.
    "It's just unfortunate that we've been penalized so much this year and nothing has happened to the Pistons, the Palace or the city of Detroit," he said. "It's almost like it's always our fault. The league knows it. They should be ashamed of themselves to let the security be as lax as it is around here."

    ----------------- Reggie Miller

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    Default Re: Tbird 2017 NBA Draft Analysis #6: Derrick White

    He's slow.

    Pass.
    First time in a long time, I've been happy with the team that was constructed, and now they struggle. I blame the coach.

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    It is ka Thankee sai Major Cold's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tbird 2017 NBA Draft Analysis #6: Derrick White

    Quote Originally Posted by Sparhawk View Post
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    He's slow.

    Pass.
    top 3% all time in the sprint,
    I don't think this is right, or going all time inflated the data. Derrick White did his sprint in 3.31. VJ Beachem did it in 3.26. Jordan Bell and Jarrett Allen did it in 3.21.

    He isnt fast.

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