The San Antonio Spurs rookie shooting guard did everything the team asked of him, and spent most of the season developing his skills in the G-League.
Let’s be clear: when the San Antonio Spurs selected Derrick White with the 29th pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, there was no expectation that he would come in and be an immediate contributor. Like many of the Spurs’ late first-round draft picks before him, White’s primary job this season was to work hard and develop his skills with the Austin Spurs in the G-League, and work hard, he did.
White excelled with the Austin Spurs, leading the team to its second minor league title, and showed enough spunk in 17 appearances with the varsity team to at least keep him on the team’s radar for next year.
The Spurs backcourt rotation was basically filled out before White was drafted, so he spent the large majority of the season with the Austin Spurs, and as any true NBA prospect should, he dominated the competition. In 24 G-League games, the guard averaged 20.1 points, 5 rebounds, and 3.5 assists in 28 minutes of action, including a 35-point performance in Game 1 of the G-League Finals.
Opportunities to showcase his skills in the big leagues were few and far between, but when they came, White looked cool and comfortable in the Spurs system. The shooting guard demonstrated hustle on the defensive end (a trait highly valued in the Spurs system), a crafty set of moves on offense, and no hesitation when pulling up from deep. None of this is exactly a surprise, but it’s good to see that the strengths called out in the pre-draft scouting reports hold true in the NBA, albeit in limited minutes.
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White’s best performance with the Spurs came in a late-season matchup against the Houston Rockets where he scored 14 points on 4-of-5 shooting from the three and pulled down 4 boards in 19 minutes of action.
So long as he continues to develop over the offseason, White’s star looks bright. He should get a chance to showcase his development in the 2018 Summer League, and he has the potential to find himself spending more time in San Antonio, especially if Manu Ginobili decides to retire or Bryn Forbes or Danny Green don’t return. He may not log major minutes right away, but a promotion from the Austin team to San Antonio is a step in the right direction and the more he plays in San Antonio, the faster he’ll develop.
White had a good rookie season with the Spurs. He worked hard in the D-League to improve his skills, and the coaching staff seems pleased with his development. He played well in his rare opportunities in San Antonio, and if gets a chance to log real minutes in the NBA, the Spurs will be able more effectively evaluate his fit long-term.