July’s NBA return gives the San Antonio Spurs a longshot at redeeming what’s been a strenuous season and Derrick White is the key to their playoff dreams.
Orlando, FL is giving the NBA a second chance to play out the rest of the most turbulent season that this league has faced in quite some time. With the San Antonio Spurs sitting at the 12th seed in the Western Conference without much hope for what comes next, they’ll have a slight window of time to make up for lost time and chip away at the playoff picture.
The key to that success is a lineup change starting with the elevation of combo guard Derrick White. As I discussed yesterday, starting two-guard Bryn Forbes has been detrimental to the Spurs’ playoff hopes because of his abysmal defense and one-dimensional play style. White, on the other hand, is a multifaceted player whose been stuck on the bench solely because of the team’s lopsided roster construction.
White has been forced to an auxiliary role because of his teammate’s inefficiencies, but this return to play should serve as a wake-up call for head coach Gregg Popovich and his staff. Few guards have the defensive versatility and prowess that White does at such a young age. He’s forced to defend All-Stars consistently as the sixth or seventh man off the bench and rarely gets to share the floor with teammate Dejounte Murray, who’s another excellent guard defender.
Statistically speaking, the San Antonio Spurs have an All-Defensive candidate stashed on the bench in Derrick White.
In shots defended by guards this season, White ranks fourth behind three players who have played an average of 2,065 minutes this season. His 497 defended shots have come in only 1,468 minutes across 61 games. He averages the third-most contested shots per game of any guard this season behind Danuel House and James Harden, who average 30 and 36.7 minutes per game respectively compared with White’s 24.1. It’s time to make a change and get White involved.
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White ranks third on the team in deflections this year behind Murray, who’s one of the best in the NBA in that category, and DeMar DeRozan, who’s the team’s leader in minutes per game. Furthermore, he’s drawn 19 charges this season, which is tied for the fourth-most in the league and is easily the most on the Spurs.
Defensive plays translate to wins for San Antonio and that should be their priority over having Forbes chuck 3-pointers to space the floor. White is a solid 3-point shooter himself and can do just fine in that role while adding so much more to the team’s output on a night-to-night basis.
With a losing record in the regular season this year, it’s proven that White’s playing time correlates to a better output. San Antonio’s record when White plays at least 25 minutes is 14-11 with a win percentage of 56.0%. That’s 13.1 percent better than the team’s regular-season record as a whole.
The Spurs have a second chance at redeeming their season. It’s time to stop putting faith where it doesn’t belong and give White the minutes he deserves.