The Chicago Bulls are off to a fantastic start in the 2021-22 NBA season. At 21-10, they are in second place in the Eastern Conference and own the fifth-best record in the NBA. Much of this success has been due to DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine’s offensive dominance. Moreover, the defensive efforts of newcomers Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso have stymied the concerns regarding the Bulls’ defense. The only roster concerns seemed to be the power forward position after Patrick Williams’s injury and scoring off the bench.
Those deficiencies have continued to persist for the Bulls. Regarding the lack of a power forward, Chicago is 27th in the NBA in rebounds per game (42.8), and they are dead last in contested rebound percentage (30.2%). Nikola Vucevic is averaging a very solid 10.9 RPG, good for eighth in the NBA. After him, though, the next-best rebounder on the Bulls is Lonzo Ball at 5.4 per game, which is 72nd in the league.
The Calls Have Come to Trade for a Power Forward
Due to the lack of a solid option at the 4 spot to fill Williams’s shoes, fans and analysts alike have called for the Bulls to trade for an available big man.
For the most part, Coby White is the common name in the conversation regarding chips to trade away. Due to a lack of disposable draft picks, the Bulls would need to trade from the roster to make an impactful move. With Ayo Dosunmu playing 18.3 MPG for the Bulls, many see White as disposable. However, that may prove to be a mistake.
The Bulls Should Hold on to Coby White
Coby White suited up for the Chicago Bulls for the first time this season on Nov. 15 after rehabbing from a shoulder injury. Quite frankly, his return to the court was rough. White didn’t make a single shot until his third game back, in which he shot 1-7 against the Denver Nuggets. It was clear he needed to work his way back into form. For the month of November, White averaged 6.1 PPG on 34.9% shooting and 22.6% shooting from deep.
Then, as December started, White went out with COVID. Over the four games he’s played in December, there have been mixed results, but he has reminded us of the offensive sparkplug he can be. In the Dec. 20 win over the Houston Rockets, White poured in 24 points on 7/15 shooting and 5/9 shooting from three.
White also contributed significantly against the Atlanta Hawks on Dec. 27. He had 13 points and shot 3/7 from deep.
Coby White Addresses the Need for a Bench Scorer
Yes, the rebounding numbers seem concerning, especially considering the Bulls are last in the league in contested rebound percentage. However, the bench scoring deficiencies are arguably more problematic. The Bulls are 29th in the NBA in bench scoring per game (26.7). They’re almost two points per game away from the 28th team and just under 10 points per game away from being in the top half of the league.
The Bulls have tons of offensive firepower from their starting unit — specifically, from DeRozan and LaVine. They rank first in the NBA in starters’ PPG (83.4). Still, the big four (DeRozan, LaVine, Vucevic, and Ball) are the only players averaging double digits in scoring. White is the only player on the Bulls’ bench who is known as a scorer in any sort of capacity. Moreover, outside of Caruso (37.5% career), White is the only true three-point shooting threat off the bench not counting Matt Thomas, who most likely won’t see meaningful minutes over the course of the season.
As White continues to get his legs underneath him, he represents the best available possibility for the Bulls to have a true scorer on their second unit. Yes, the need for another big is apparent, but White is a potent scoring threat, and the Bulls don’t have a replacement for that.
If Chicago has a chance at a really solid forward to step into the starting lineup and score, rebound, and protect the rim, and they have to give up Coby White for it, it could make sense. Still, there is a compelling case to keep White on the roster as the Bulls look to contend in the playoffs this season.
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