After being staggered all season long, Derrick White is still adjusting to his starting role with Dejounte Murray in the San Antonio Spurs backcourt.
All season long, San Antonio Spurs fans championed for the team’s best guards to play together. There are some truly incompetent defensive players in silver and black this year and others who are trying to find their way. That put a tremendous weight on the backs of the team’s elite guard defenders, Dejounte Murray and Derrick White.
It took two other people in the head coaching spot to make it happen, but the team is finally starting its best young players alongside each other. The result has been solid performances from both players with White stepping up in the Spurs’ second scrimmage against the Brooklyn Nets. His defense was transcendent as ever, using active hands and a ruthless approach to keep Brookyn’s guards and wings at bay.
However, it was White’s offensive explosion that earned him the game ball. The 26-year-old poured on 22 points on 15 shots including four made 3-pointers in 26 minutes. White would never have the opportunity to have a game like that in his role off the bench, but learning to play next to Dejounte opened up those opportunities for the third-year guard.
Even so, this is only the beginning. During postgame media availability, White mentioned that there’s still a learning curve for the two guards as they adjust to life alongside each other instead of replacing each other in the rotation.
“We’re still learning how to play with each other because we haven’t done it much,” White said. “Every time we’re out there, we try to get more comfortable”
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It’s only natural that two players filling significant, borderline redundant roles need to get used to playing with each other. Any two teammates need to build chemistry in order to gel — It took Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker some time as well. These things don’t simply happen overnight, which is why it’s important that the Spurs do this now.
Whether it be in practices, scrimmages or the eight games that count toward their records, the Spurs need these guys to formulate some chemistry. For all intents and purposes, White and Murray are the players who will man these positions for the next four years. That’s assuming White gets his extension this offseason, but unless he asks for something totally unreasonable, I don’t see any way the deal doesn’t get done.
With that in mind, the expectation should be that White and Murray are going to start a full 82-game season slate in the 2020-21 campaign. There’s not much of a chance for the Spurs to make it into the postseason this year and even if they did, it would be to get pummeled by the Lakers in the first round. That doesn’t seal this team’s fate for next year though — especially if Murray and White go into it playing off of each other the way that Spurs fans envision for the future.
Except we’re not talking about the future anymore. If these two scrimmages are truly indicative of what Spurs fans have begged for all season long, the organization knows that the future is now.