Ah, Coby. He seems like a natural scorer. Allan Houston was a shooter. Brian Winters was a shooter. Michael Jordan was a scorer. So was Alex English. Kiki was the shooter. Korver is a shooter. Westbrook is a scorer. Had this interesting conversation with a young guy in the office today. He plays a lot of ball. I asked him if there was a way to scale things appropriately, would he like to have Westbrook as a teammate. He said "no way". Asked him then "which point would you like best to play with?" he paused for a second and couldn't really answer. Gosh. Isn't that a shame? not Chris Paul either. Too bossy. The shame is that he didn't see Maurice Cheeks or Earvin Johnson at the top of his game. Or Kevin Johnson for that matter. Mark Price. I honestly didn't get to see enough of Stockton to really get a hold of his game. When it was my turn, it was a tough answer.
Probably Walt Frazier. Frazier was a cunning defender and a very very smooth offensive player with a lovely sense of space both with his own shot, with screens on and off the ball, and when he passed. If I ever played with the gym rat version of Jerry West, I'd be scared to death. Gym rat version of Tiny? I'd be watching way too much. Tiny didn't defend either. Mullin or Hardaway? Mullin was more of a forward with court sense, but I did like Hardaway's lack of difficulty with contact. No slight to Isiah, who was such a good player but I actually preferred Dumars.- that was just me. Okay, back to Coby. Get him the ball in transition to give him a feel for letting go of the ball. In half-court set him high post extended in space and let him work. More places to shoot; top of the key encourages dribbling which for guys like Coby translates as ball stoppage. High post extended? pick up a little curl screen, let go of the 18ft'er or jab step and take it hard to the baseline. Either way it's catch it and do something. Guys like Coby need an opportunity to seize.
White is emerging quickly as he's come out of the All-Star break (Rising Stars snub?) one of the best guards in the game. Not just rookies. He's playing with purpose and poise, confidence and swagger, as the guys like to say. Starter? Finisher? That figures to remain a debate the rest of what's left of the season. But if the Bulls want to get a glimpse of their future White should be playing with LaVine almost always to see if the team has an IT pairing. They just may. Is White a future sixth man? It's a valuable role, but perhaps the Bulls ought to hope not. White seems like the real thing and is showing, especially carrying the responsibility without LaVine, that he may just have IT. That favorite partner is an interesting discussion, and one the Bulls probably need to see with White and LaVine. I've long believed Durant left Oklahoma City less for the title than to get away from Westbrook. He's awful to play with because of the blind frenzy with which he approaches the game. Unquestionably a wonderful talent, but he takes the fun out of the game for you. Chris Paul did that with the Clippers, but more because he didn't have anyone who could shoot with him. Now that he does he's been revitalized and a joy to watch again. Houston has got to be the worst place to be a teammate given Westbrook and Harden. I'd hate playing with Harden, too, the way he dribbles and dribbles and then mostly looks for himself.
Though I never played basketball at a high level, I played in plenty of leagues and always hated when the former D-1 player came home and he was, of course, the best talent, but miserable to play with because he dominated the ball. Even when you won sometimes, what fun is it if you mostly spend time watching and setting an occasional pick. It's one way Larry Brown was such a good coach. Even when he had Allen Iverson, he always made sure to run a few plays for Tyrone Hill so he'd go get those offensive rebounds. Same in Detroit with Ben Wallace, who rarely could score in an empty gym. Larry knew it was a lost possession, but it helped make the game fun for those guys. Harden and Westbrook take the fun out of the game. Nash dribbled plenty, but to find others. I actually believed he should have shot more. Guys loved playing with him. Same with Isiah. He could have averaged 30 even back then, but perhaps no one sacrificed more individually for team success, averaging fewer than 20 points when they were winning. Joe was good but got into the Hall of Fame because of Isiah. The difficult part in this era of scoring point guards is to play that role while being welcomed as a teammate. It was easy for Magic and Stockton, who wanted to pass first. Today you have to make yourself a scoring option first. Coby is starting to look like a guy who might just fit that unique role of scorer first/good teammate. If that occurs, the Bulls might have found themselves a real star. Free Coby White! Free Coby White!