San Antonio Spurs 2018-19 Player Previews: Derrick White poised for breakout season

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 /

Derrick White looks to make a major impact as he enters his sophomore campaign with the San Antonio Spurs.

With the departure of Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili’s retirement, guard Derrick White is poised for a breakout season after spending almost his entire rookie year playing in the G League with the Austin Spurs.

This summer, White gave Spurs fans a taste of what they have to look forward to this season as the Colorado product dominated competition at the 2018 Utah Jazz Summer League. White commanded the offense, played both on and off the ball, knocked down open and contested three-point shots and found open teammates for good looks.

Although one has to take Summer League statistics with a grain of salt, White’s performances cannot be overlooked. Being compared to a “bully on the playground”, White was hands-down one of the most dominant players in Utah as he penetrated defenses and scored with ease.

Remember, combo guard Bryn Forbes went through a similar hot streak in the summer of 2017 after his rookie year, which was followed up with a breakout season for Forbes. While it’s impossible to say that White’s developmental trajectory will perfectly mirror Forbes’, it is encouraging to see White making the noticeable progressions one would expect to see from a player with a year of professional ball under his belt.

Like with most young players, some of the biggest adjustments White had to face when he entered the league were the speed of the game and confidence. Especially as a point guard, transitioning from the college game pace can be rocky.

Once players have been in the league a few years, they talk about how the game starts slowing down for them. White is still in the process of making that adjustment but he’s approaching the game with the right mindset and with more real-time experience he’ll continue to grow into a more disciplined player.

It’s unclear what kind of workload White will see during the regular season, but his ability to play the combo-guard role will afford him more opportunities to contribute this year. Further, if White can knock down the three-ball with consistency, he could be in position to see even more court time, perhaps leapfrogging Forbes on the depth chart and cannibalizing some of his minutes.

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After a successful summer in Utah and Las Vegas and having recently been added to the USA Men’s World Cup Qualifying Team for the September games, White has all the ingredients to make a measurable impact on the Spurs next season.