San Antonio Spurs: Derrick White is the key to a playoff run
By Dylan Carter
Rising star Derrick White has been a stud for the San Antonio Spurs, so naturally his performance in the postseason will be key to the team’s success.
The modus operandi of the renowned San Antonio Spurs has been a next-man up mentality that ensures the team will always have a competent player to fill positions of need. With that in mind, the remarkable brain trust of Gregg Popovich and R.C. Buford has done a masterful job of selecting and developing talent late in the first round of each NBA draft.
Their latest investment, 6-foot-5 combo guard Derrick White from Colorado, was considered questionable by fans on draft night. After investing draft capital and personal attachment in lockdown point guard Dejounte Murray in the 2016 draft, it was surprising to see the Spurs add another player of similar nature in the subsequent draft class.
Almost two years later, it’s clear why Pop and Buford bit the bullet and selected a guard for the second consecutive year. White has emerged as one of the most important members of a completely transformed roster in the Alamo City. After Murray suffered his devastating ACL tear that would sideline him for the entire 2018-19 season, the world got a chance to see just what White is made of.
At only 24 years old, White leads all point guards in Defensive Player Impact Plus-Minus (D-PIPM) with 2.0. For reference, the BBall-Index describes PIPM as “a metric that combines traditional boxscore value with luck-adjusted on/off player data to estimate how much value a player adds to their team.” Essentially, the stat accounts for White’s statistical prominence as a well-rounded defender in contrast to his peers.
Derrick White as of today, is contesting 9.6 shots per game. This leads every guard in the NBA. In fact, it’s tied with Giannis for most shot contests per game of any perimeter player in the NBA. Both contest 9.6 per game.
— Joey Wilkinson ♱ (@AssassinateHate) March 13, 2019
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Ensuring a mean case of Déjà vu for basketball fans worldwide, a standout defensive guard in San Antonio is putting the basketball world on notice for his dedication to the Spurs’ system of defense; although White offers much more than just on-ball defense. His 10.1 points per game come on an efficient 49.6 percent shooting from the field and a respectable 35.1 percent clip from deep.
We’ve witnessed White grow from a G League standout to a full-time starter in one brief year. The rising star has connected on eight or more field goals in seven games during the regular season thus far; San Antonio has a perfect record over that stretch.
For as important as All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge and first-year Spur DeMar DeRozan are to the team’s success, White has been the nucleus of the team because of his distinction on both sides of the floor. Just weeks removed from the playoffs, it’s become undeniable that White’s performance in the postseason will be the catalyst in San Antonio’s title chances.
With prospective matchups against Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Damian Lillard looming in the near future, Popovich needs his go-to lockdown defender to bring his A-Game.