Coby White ready to build on All-Rookie honor with strong minicamp

Coby White met with the media via Zoom conference on Wednesday morning after being named to the NBA All-Rookie Second Team where he discussed his first season as a pro, watching the NBA Playoffs, and what's next for the Bulls.

Coby White's been just like the rest of us these last few months.

Doing some exercises.

"Work out, that's about it," White said

Some calls with fellow workers.

"We had four or five Zoom calls. That was good," White added. "We also have a group chat where we talk a little bit, so that was cool. But it's nothing like personal interactions."

And watching NBA playoff games and marveling about all that scoring.

"It was amazing to see Jamal Murray and Don (Mitchell) go at it," White enthused. "It's not so much what I took from it. It was just exciting. Just watching those two guys go out at it (in the Nuggets/Jazz first round series) was fun. I've never been a hating guy. So when those guys were going at it, I was super excited for them. To be honest, being in high school, when I was in college, I never watched Jamal Murray really play until now. I didn't realize how cold he was until now. Yeah, he cold."

Which can also describe White, at least in the last month of his rookie season when he also was "cold" and heating up on the court. Which led to White's addition to the NBA All-Rookie team revealed Tuesday. White joins teammate Lauri Markkanen, who was All-Rookie in 2018.

"Second-Team All-Rookie was a blessing, was an honor to be part of that," White said in a morning Zoom conference with media members. "Felt like my season was up and down. It could have been better, but that's every season. I feel like for me, just working on my efficiency finishing around the rim and being more of a playmaker when I'm out there on the court; those are my next steps.

Coby White spoke with media after being selected to the 2020 NBA All-Rookie Second Team.

"I think moving forward my primary position is point guard," said the 6-4 White, now with a thick, though not quite Hardenesque beard. "But I also can play off the ball because I can score and shoot it so well. So I think that this past year showcased that I can be a point guard, but I can also play off the ball at times when I need to. I think my goal for next year is to be better than I was last year. And who doesn't want to be the starting point guard in training camp? That's my goal, that's what I want to achieve. I'm just going to keep working towards that to get that achievement for myself.

"I feel like at times I was overlooked," White admitted. "But I feel at times I didn't play up to my expectations. Not making the Rising Stars (All-Star weekend) game was also fueling my fire. But I feel the ones who did make it deserved it and deserved to be part of the game. That game kind of helped me. It was a wake-up call. After that, I kind of took it how it was and just continued to get better and continued to do what I do. As the season went on, I felt like I got better as a player."

A perhaps not completely glorious NBA tradition has been players being snubbed as All-Stars and then producing huge games afterward. That was the serene White, who suddenly became the league's highest scoring reserve player following the All-Star break. He had three consecutive games scoring at least 33 points and at least 20 points in eight of the 10 games after the break with 19 in another. The run resulted in a quickly corrected NBA oversight with White named February Rookie of the Month.

It led to White's first start as a Bull March 10 in a win over Cleveland as White had 20 points, five rebounds and five assists. The NBA season was suspended the next day and White's game went into hibernation as the Bulls were excluded from the league's restart in Orlando.

It's also been a time for new introductions as White returned to Chicago to find the Bulls with a new chief of basketball operations, a new general manager and a new coach. 
 "It's a lot to process, a lot to take in, but I feel like I'm doing well with it; I've been taking it day by day," White said. "The new guys in the front office are really great, Arturas (Karnisovas), Marc Eversley, Pat Connelly, all of those guys are really good for us right now. I can't speak on behalf of the rest of the team, but I was kind of surprised (about coach Jim Boylen being fired). I really didn't see it coming. Jim, I give him all the credit. He was a great coach when he was here. We're excited to see change, but taking nothing away from him. This season he helped me out a lot and I can't thank him enough for how he helped me out this season on and off the court."

White said he went back to North Carolina after the league's shutdown in March. He said he returned about 10 weeks ago, but has been limited in activities since all the NBA allowed for players not in Orlando was individual workouts.

"One player per basket with two coaches there max," said White. "I've just been coming in every day — well, five days a week — working out and lifting and the on-court (shooting). Still not competition. Players still can't touch each other or be near each other."

The NBA finally acknowledged the inequity of eliminating eight teams from a partial finish to the season. So the league permitted a training camp-like period for those teams, which began Monday with a week of virus testing and quarantine. Starting next week, players will increase drills and have scrimmages.

"I think the big thing is just all coming together, getting a feel for each other. Just getting that team chemistry back," White said. "We've been away from each other for so long and we haven't played with each other in so long, so for us to just get back on the court together it'll be good for us. With everything going on in the world, some of us haven't really played basketball or played 5-on-5 in so long. Because for a lot of us basketball is our therapy. It'll be good to just get back with our brothers on the court and hooping again and having fun. This is the first time in my life I've not been able to play it. (I learned) never take basketball for granted."

So it's Phase 1 of the Next Season in the Rest of the Bulls Life.

There's the new management, a new coach to come—White said he heard management might reduce the candidate list Friday—the draft, another training camp and hopefully not too long afterward the new season.

"I think we're just going to take it game by game and we're going to focus on winning games," said White. "We're not going to put a label on the season like we're going to make the playoffs. I think we're just going to try to win more games than we did last season and try to build. This isn't something that I feel like is going to happen overnight. We all got to keep growing. We all got to keep grinding. And just try to win games. At the end of the day, that's all you can do."