San Antonio Spurs: What’s Derrick White’s future role?

PHILADELPHIA,PA - JANUARY 3 : Head Coach Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs speaks with Derrick White
PHILADELPHIA,PA - JANUARY 3 : Head Coach Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs speaks with Derrick White /

The San Antonio Spurs have kept Derrick on the bench for most of his first season, but what will he do in the future?

When the San Antonio Spurs selected Derrick White in Round 1 of the 2017 NBA Draft, he became the second point guard in as many years to go to San Antonio in the draft process. Dejounte Murray went No. 29 in 2016 and mostly stayed under wraps in 2016-17, until an increased role and starting position came about in 2017-18.

Murray looks like the point guard of the future, albeit a player with still-raw skills and a ridiculous wingspan for someone at his position. With years left on his contract and the potential to cement himself in the starting role, it somewhat leaves White’s future role in the air, even if it’s just three-quarters of the way into his rookie season.

The Spurs’ point guard depth features Murray, Tony Parker and Patty Mills. Murray and Mills will return next year, pending an offseason move. Parker’s contract will expire after the playoffs, but he iterated a desire to stay in the Alamo City. If these three stay for 2018-19, it does not leave room for White to push the point guard conversation forward.

There’s shooting guard, however, which may better suit the Colorado product’s skill set. He played like a combo guard in college, averaging 18.1 points, 4.4 assists and 4.1 rebounds per game. These stats translated to 15.7 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.6 assists in the G League, trending more toward the two spot on the court.

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At 6′ 5”, White’s size profiles him as a slightly undersized shooting guard. The Spurs already work the 6′ 3” Bryn Forbes into the rotation, so that may not be a concern. However, a spot will only be open if Forbes leaves in restricted free agency, Danny Green opts out of his contract and leaves, and/or Manu Ginobili retires. Even then, it’s difficult to expect the 23-year old to take a significant role in 2018-19 or anything above a role player, similar to what Murray was for most of the first half.

Coming off the bench allows White to take the next step in his development, and at least gives the Spurs insurance if one of their impending free agents leave. G-League experience only helps this, as he received major minutes in 13 appearances for Austin and had an extensive look vs. the Golden State Warriors, when Murray and Parker did not play due to injury.

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Where will White stand next year on the roster? What needs to happen for him to carve out a role?