The NBA Draft is right around the corner and we’re only days away from Derrick White’s NBA career officially beginning. White, the fifth-year combo guard, has flown under the radar at every point in his career. As a late-first or early-second round selection, he’ll hope to do the same as he reaches the NBA.
- Height: 6’4.5”
- Weight: 190
- Wingspan: 6’7.5”
- Vertical: 36.5”
- Shoots: Right
- Position: PG/SG
- Age: 23
- Projected Draft Range: 20-35
- PPG: 18.1 | Per 40: 22.5
- APG: 4.4 | Per 40: 5.3
- RPG: 4.1 | Per 40: 5.0
- BLK: 1.4 | Per 40: 1.8
- STL: 1.2 | Per 40: 1.5
- PER: 27.3
Offensively, Derrick White can do it all. White has offensive savvy to spare and can score in just about every way. Most importantly for his NBA career, White is an excellent shooter from all over the court, and with a quick release and a springy jumper, he excels shooting both off the dribble and spotting up. On the drive, he’s sometimes loose with his handle, but he has a great feel for the game and easily finds openings in the defense. Despite being Colorado’s only option at times, White was consistently able to create quality shots for himself and for teammates. His own shots he makes with great efficiency — he shot 57% from the field, 40% from three — as he balances his shooting ability with crafty finishing inside.
As a point guard, White’s poise is undeniable, as is his basketball IQ and court awareness that allowed him to average a solid 4.4 assists despite not having knockdown shooters or strong finishers around him. He’s also great in the pick and roll, and considering his shooting ability and court vision, that skill should definitely carry over to the NBA. White is somewhat inexperienced as a lead guard — he only played one year in Division-1 and wasn’t even supposed to be Colorado’s point guard — but he seemed to improve every game he played. His constant improvement on both ends of the floor suggests he still has untapped potential on that end.
Derrick White’s biggest concerns lie with his less than ideal athleticism. White is tall (6’5) and long (6’7 armspan) for a point guard, but he’s not as strong as you would prefer. His lack of strength looks worse when you see that he’s not particularly quick and will likely have trouble staying in front of NBA point guards. His defensive struggles against Markelle Fultz and Lonzo Ball highlight this problem, though he did improve as the season progressed and he shows tremendous defensive instincts (he had 1.4 blocks and 1.2 assists per game). Because he’s not a great athlete, White’s defensive upside is limited, and there’s a chance that his average athleticism deters his offensive game from translating to the next level. On the latter, there’s concern White won’t be able to get to the rim and finish with consistency.
All that said, White can ease some of these concerns by building weight. Despite his age (23), White is still filling out. He had an extremely late growth spurt and only began building muscle this past summer, his first season with a D-1 training program. White is an incredibly hark worker and with NBA training, he should be able to gain some weight and even improve upon his physical testing, thus improving his defensive upside and putting himself in position to tap into his potential.
Derrick White came to Colorado from D-II UC-Colorado Springs and no one knew how his game would translate or what exactly he would bring to the Buffs. Little did we know, White’s only season at Colorado was one of the best single-season performances in program history. White was omnipresent for the Buffs as he did everything on both ends of the court as he emerged as one of the very best players in the Pac-12. The Buffs struggled mightily at times this year, but White was always there and he led them almost single-handedly to the NIT.
Derrick White is a high-floor, medium-ceiling prospect who should contribute early and often to any team, even those in contention. His floor is a reliable scoring guard off the bench who can hold up just enough defensively to showcase his diverse offensive game. His ceiling, which is dependent on him getting stronger and finding more defensive consistency, is that of a solid two-way starter or a dangerous sixth man. At his worst, White should well worth a second round pick. At his best, White could easily be the steal of the draft.
The San Antonio Spurs (29th pick) and Utah Jazz (30th) are both looking for guard depth in the draft and both teams have a tendency to pick older college players they know can contribute right away. The Orlando Magic (25th, 32nd and 33rd) and Atlanta Hawks (31st) are also looking for more consistent play from their bench guards, so White could be heading to the South. Other potential spots could be the Oklahoma City Thunder (21st), Brooklyn Nets (27th) or Philadelphia 76ers (36th), all of which are looking for a game-ready backup guard. (We at Ralphie Report are hoping he goes to Utah, OKC or Brooklyn, but only because each of those teams has another Buffalo and we need an official RR team to root for.)
Best-Case Comparison: Jrue Holiday
Worst-Case: E’Twaun Moore