San Antonio Spurs guard Derrick White made a strong case for an All-Defensive Team nomination during his breakout season, but he was ultimately passed over.
White had led the Austin Spurs to a G League title during his rookie year, but we didn’t know if those skills would translate to the NBA in year two.
White answered all of those questions this season by exceeding nearly everyone’s expectations and capping the year off with a strong playoff series against his hometown Denver Nuggets.
While the former Colorado Buffalo’s offense was exactly what the Spurs were looking for from the point guard position this year, he really excelled on the defensive end of the floor where this team needed him most.
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White averaged 1 steal and 0.7 blocks per game in a little under 26 minutes per contest, which extrapolates to 1.4 steals and 1 block per 36 minutes.
The advanced numbers loved what White was able to bring to the table on defense as he ranked fifth among point guards in ESPN’s defensive real plus-minus, and San Antonio’s defensive rating was nearly four points better when he was on the floor.
Marcus Smart (eighth among point guards in defensive real plus-minus) and Eric Bledsoe (10th among point guards in defensive real plus-minus) claimed the first-team guard spots while Jrue Holiday (ninth among point guards in defensive real plus-minus) and Klay Thompson (92nd among shooting guards in defensive real plus-minus) were the second-team guards.
It’s honestly pretty hard to argue with these selections. The advanced numbers didn’t like Klay’s defense during the regular season, but his reputation as a defensive stopper at the highest level gets him on this list, and the rest of the All-Defense guards have long-standing reputations as great defenders.
With the All-Defensive Team, you usually need to build more of a reputation before you are handed this prestigious honor. Even though Dejounte Murray got an All-Defensive Team nod in his second season, Murray’s numbers from 2017-18 were much better than White’s were this year.
I’d be shocked if White doesn’t make an All-Defensive Team in the near future as people around the league begin to realize how great of a defender he really is.
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It’s disappointing that he didn’t get the recognition he deserved this season, but we’ll hear White’s name mentioned alongside the great guard defenders in the league soon enough. Especially when he teams up with Murray to stifle opposing backcourts next season.