Derrick White rose to the occasion in his second season with the San Antonio Spurs. Here are three bold predictions for White’s third-year with the Spurs.
Far removed from the days when his head coach didn’t even know who he was, San Antonio Spurs point guard Derrick White is coming up on a big third season. In a crowded backcourt, it is still unsure what role White will play. One thing is sure, White is sure to play a critical role once again.
After taking over the starting role for the Spurs in December, White rose to become one of San Antonio’s most important players. His defense and playmaking impressed coaches and fans alike. While he could not help lead the Spurs past the Nuggets in the first round of the playoffs, White did have his share of memorable moments. Most memorably, his career-high 36 point performance in Game 3.
White is equally capable of playing with the starters or leading the bench unit, as he did in Saturday’s preseason game. Either way, it’s hard to envision White having anything less than an impressive season. He’s had a great off-season, the hard work is sure to pay off.
Ultimately, White’s role will be determined by what is best for the team. Similarly, the individual accolades White may receive at the end of the year will be a result of not only his own play but also by where the Spurs finish in the Western Conference. Here are three bold predictions for Derrick White in 2019-20.
Next: No. 3
Derrick White will lead the best bench in the NBA
Derrick White will spend the 2019-20 NBA season as the San Antonio Spurs newest sixth man. It’s a role that I think White is perfect for. Bryn Forbes fits better in the starting lineup and White can help elevate the second unit to be one of the best in the league.
Handing control of the second unit to White would allow both White and Murray to spend the majority of their time at their preferred positions. San Antonio is already one of the deepest teams in the league. Bringing White off the bench would give San Antonio an added boost to what was already an area of strength.
The Spurs’ second unit will be key to their success this year. Pairing White with established veterans like Patty Mills and DeMarre Carroll, as well as explosive rookie Lonnie Walker, will give San Antonio plenty of options to pick apart opposing teams with. They also have the personnel to dominate teams defensively.
The Spurs lack the star power of the Clippers and Lakers. However, if teams like the aforementioned want to make deep playoff runs, they may follow similar load management schedules to what we saw from Kawhi Leonard in Toronto last year.
As C.J. McCollum recently pointed out, that’s a strategy that can unintended consequences. Rest too many games and you might end up costing yourself in the end. Play your stars too much and they might wear down. The Spurs thankfully have enough quality depth to walk the line between the two.
While other teams may struggle to weigh resting star players and securing playoff position, Derrick White will lead the Spurs unit to be the best in the NBA and a key advantage over other teams.
Next: No. 2
He will get serious NBA All-Defensive Team consideration
Derrick White was a strong enough defender to get light consideration for the NBA All-Defensive team last year. He received four 1st place and seven 2nd place votes. I expect those numbers to skyrocket this year as White makes a legitimate push.
As the Spurs best defensive guard he was tasked with containing players like Russell Westbrook and James Harden on a regular basis. He didn’t back down from any challenge and held his own. Now, with another full off-season of training and development with Team USA and on his own, White is ready to make his name as one of the best defensive guards in the league.
On a team full of strong defenders, White can help turn around a defense that had a down year last year. After not having a positive relative defensive rating since 1998 the Spurs posted a .08 relative defensive rating last year. It’s something that this group is capable of turning around right away.
As DeMarre Carroll highlighted to David Flores of KENS5, this Spurs team is ready to get after it on defense.
“I think that’s the main focus this year – defense,” Carroll said. “We’ve got a lot of guys coming back or they brought in that are defensive minded. I think we can have a little punch to that, and try to really focus more on defense.”
When the Spurs will be hard-pressed to be scored on when they can put out a lineup of White, Murray, LaMarcus Aldridge, Carroll, and Rudy Gay. That group will be able to really put the clamps down on other teams.
If White is able to help lead a much needed defensive turn around and deliver a top-five defense he should receive serious All-Defensive Team consideration.
Next: No. 1
White will help lead the Spurs to a top 5 Conference finish
Finally, I’m predicting that White’s stellar defensive performance and leadership off the bench will help the San Antonio Spurs finish within the top 5 teams in the Western Conference. In doing so, they will also break an NBA record for consecutive playoff appearances.
I really believe that this team is being overlooked, again. After a full off-season to acclimate to San Antonio as a city and as a team, I’m expecting big things from DeMar DeRozan. I think that he can return to his peak form in his second year with the Spurs. Combine that with the ageless LaMarcus Aldridge, a duo of dynamic guards, and the deepest bench in the league and you have a really dangerous team.
The Western Conference experienced a lot of shakeups this off-season and is more competitive than ever. A lot of teams added start power. San Antonio is betting on continuity and depth.
As many star players as a team may have, as we saw in last year’s Finals, all it takes is an injury or two to completely derail aspirations. San Antonio has the depth to weather injuries, the star players to win in clutch moments, and you know they won’t beat themselves.
All combined I think those three things will give San Antonio enough of an edge over the rest of the teams in the conference to help them lock up a top-5 seed.
Capable of either leading the starting lineup or the second unit, Derrick White is sure to play a critical role for the San Antonio Spurs once again.