He just keeps getting better. After impressing in his first two games in the NBA Playoffs, Derrick White absolutely blew up as he carried his San Antonio Spurs to a Game 3 win over his hometown Denver Nuggets.
If you didn’t see, this should catch you up:
All told, that dominance resulted in a career-high 36 points on a ridiculous 15-21 shooting performance. 24 of those points came in the first half when none of his teammates were doing anything. He’s so patient on ball, waits waits waits for something to happen, then the second he sees its, he bolts into the opening and converts at the rim. It looked like whoever was guarding him was invisible. White knew he could scoot past his defender, find that crevice, and clinically finish whatever chance he got. That’s not normal! He made scoring 36 points on 21 shots — and 69 points on 42 shots this series — look easy.
He also starred on the defensive end, as I’m sure you can imagine. Besides Jamal Murray’s 21 point fourth quarter outburst in Game 2, White has made him look like Emmanuel Mudiay. He held Murray to 6 points, 2 assists and 4 turnovers in 31 minutes. White is simply too big, too quick and too smart a defender for Murray to create any space.
White’s two-way dominance showed up in a +30 +/- in a 10-point win, which means the Spurs outscored the Nuggets by 30 points with him on the floor. He was easily the best player on the floor and that was obvious to everyone. He dictated the floor on both sides and did it with poise and calm that should not be possible for a first-year starter.
He’s learning, too, and he’s going to turn this dominance into an even larger impact. He may not shoot 70% from the field, but he knows how to dominate in the NBA Playoffs. Not even the most optimistic of White supporters could have predicted this.