White’s Quick Adjustment Leads to Early Success

Okaro White
Photo Credit: David Dow
by Joe Beguiristain
HEAT.com

Summer League is an event unlike any other. Year after year, teams compile rosters of NBA hopefuls, lottery picks and young players who could benefit from working on their craft.

While there may be some familiarity, often times these guys have never played with one another.

Now, imagine if you joined a Summer League team for the second half of the slate like Okaro White did.

“The first game we got out here [on] Saturday, I didn’t know anything,” White said. “It was a mutual decision on, you know, don’t want to put me out there not knowing anything, so the one practice helped me move along a little, and I’ve just been blessed to be able to be a guy that coach Howard trusts at the end of the game.”

That vote of confidence could be due to the former Florida State Seminole assimilating quickly to the HEAT’s system, as he seems to fit the bill as a stretch four at the next level. The 23-year-old is making the most of his playing time, as he’s shown the quickness and agility needed for switching off the ball and defending guards on the perimeter. Additionally, the 6-foot-8 forward has also played tough inside, including this massive swat on David Lighty Jr. Wednesday against the Pelicans.

“[He had] another big stop for us protecting the basket, in there at times being undersized but battling hard on the glass for us, switching sometimes on perimeters, being able to move his feet, also talking out our coverages,” Summer League head coach Juwan Howard said. “What he’s doing for us, it’s elite level.”

On the flip side of the ball, White has proven to be quite a versatile player. After six minutes of action against the Mavericks on Saturday, the big man’s role has increased with each passing game. White’s 17-point performance against New Orleans (including a put-back layup with 24.8 seconds left) was his coming out party, but he started to gain his footing in the game prior against the Suns. In that contest, he led the team with 12 boards, knocked down a bunch of jumpers and rolled to the basket for this smooth and-one conversion.

“I’m an energy guy, you know,” White said. “I just try to start out with energy and let the rest of the game come to me.”

That energy was on full display in two seasons overseas, first in Italy then in Greece. All that hard work paid off in the end, as the HEAT signed White on Friday. It should really come as no surprise given how highly Howard thinks of him.

“Obviously you could tell that I trust him,” Howard said. “Okaro only had one practice with us, and it shows that the guy has a high basketball IQ because he’s picking up our system quickly. It’s a fast track, but he’s doing it because he just knows how to play the game.”

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