Bulls guard Coby White in full control of balancing act

It’s no secret to Bulls coach Billy Donovan and veteran forward DeMar DeRozan why White has started to play at such a high level lately. And according to DeRozan, White is just getting started.

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Coby White

A key in the evolution of Coby White is the Bulls point guard understanding the balance of scoring and play-making, according to coach Billy Donovan.

Charles Rex Arbogast/AP

MIAMI — Coby White went back to being a play-making point guard Thursday, already racking up seven of his game-high 11 assists just a few minutes into the second quarter against the Heat.

In the Bulls’ three previous games, he’d scored 24 points in a win against the Spurs, 33 in a loss to the Bucks and 27 in a loss to the Nuggets.

Coach Billy Donovan said the biggest improvement in White’s game is his ability to now balance when to be a facilitator and when to be a scorer — not an easy wire to walk, and a big factor in why he had so many issues as a point guard in his first few NBA seasons.

“He knows, ‘OK, the way for me to impact getting guys shots and playing the point guard is through penetration and playing downhill, but when I get the ball on the perimeter and I’ve got a shot, I’ve got to take the ones that are there,’ ” Donovan said. “I think he’s done a really good job lately of balancing the responsibility of being a point guard, the responsibility of being true to himself and being the player that he is.”

The scary thing, according to teammate DeMar DeRozan, is that White isn’t close to being a finished product. DeRozan would know. He spends more time working out with the younger players in-season and during the offseason than any other Bull.

“This dude is amazing,” DeRozan said. “I’m just glad people are starting to see how talented he is, how much of a competitor he is. I’ve said it before — I worked out with him all summer, and just to see how much he wants it, how he asks questions, how humble he is about the approach, it’s amazing to see his growth and see the things that he does.”

Another good point

White isn’t the only one picking up in the ball-movement department lately. DeRozan was averaging 7.8 assists over his previous five games entering this two-game series in Miami. He finished with four Thursday.

Of course, DeRozan, who was a strong distributor during his days with the Spurs, downplayed the recent uptick.

“[I’m] just trying to find the guys, get them in a rhythm,” he said. “They do a hell of a job just trusting me when I have the ball, and I just try and find them, manipulate the offense as best I can when we’re playing how we should be playing.”

Donovan said it’s more than just that.

“DeMar, through my eyes, always plays the right way,” Donovan said. “His IQ is so high. With the way he is an elite scorer and can get fouls, he brings help to him to generate shots for others.

“DeMar’s mentality is, ‘I’m going to give those guys confidence by throwing the ball to them. When they’re open, I’m going to tell them to shoot it. I’m going to show them that I believe in them.’ ”

A long December

The Bulls won’t be getting a break in the schedule any time soon. After a rematch with the Heat on Saturday, they have two games with the 76ers coming up within 12 days of each other (Dec. 18 in Philadelphia and Dec. 30 at the United Center) and also face the Lakers, Cavaliers and Pacers before the end of the year.

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