San Antonio Spurs fans were left stunned by the recent trade of Derrick White to the Boston Celtics. Fortunately, the deal appears to have worked out well for all parties, with White playing well on his new team and the Celtics surging.
Also, the Spurs are 4-1 since the trade and have been much more competitive despite losing one of their best players. That said, let's examine the ways the Spurs have improved since trading White.
1. The Ball is in Dejounte Murray's hands more
Without White, the Spurs lost a reliable secondary player-maker who made life easier on Dejounte Murray. However, surprisingly, that may be key to Murray unlocking his full offensive potential, as well as the team's.
While his red-hot play may be unsustainable (this season at least), it does give the Spurs a possible roadmap for how to best utilize Murray. He's already their best offensive option, considering that he's averaging nearly a triple-double on the season.
Therefore, San Antonio could decide to run a more Murray-centric offense, which would involve him orchestrating most aspects of it. While he's already responsible for setting up teammates and getting buckets, that would be ratcheted up as a result of the roster featuring less play-making.
That would definitely be different from how the Spurs generally play, but it makes sense to try to tailor their offense around their best player. Additionally, the starting lineup now features more shooting, with Devin Vassell starting instead of White. As a result, Murray could be even more effective operating as a creator in the pick and roll.
That would likely bode well for the Spurs offense, given that they currently rank as average on that end. Therefore, being able to put the ball in the hands of their best player more is just one way San Antonio has improved.