Scoring remains king in the NBA and Coby White is a walking bucket that's going to entice teams looking for some firepower in the backcourt. With the ability to play either guard spot White is someone who can score at all three levels and offers a blend of speed and shooting ability that no other guard in the class can match.
Running the point for North Carolina is no easy task and White's effectiveness as a freshman shows maturity and adaptability that should also help him in his move to the NBA.
North Carolina was the fastest high major team in college basketball this season. They looked to score off the first or second pass every single time in transition and if they're unable to do that they would enter an intricate secondary break that required a split second read of the defense. If for some reason they hadn't put up a shot by that point they entered a dizzying continuity offense consisting of multiple ball screens. Through each stage of that offense White was tasked with ball handling and decision-making duties and he handled them with a poise normally not seen from a first year player.
While many players struggle with adjusting to the pace from college to the NBA White should actually thrive with it. He'll be well suited to the up and down pro game and that means he should be able to instantly step into an NBA role and provide value on a rookie scale contract, something that can't be understated in a salary cap league.
Not only does he have value as a player who can step in and play right away but he has some definite star upside with his good positional size at 6'5" and top level speed. While he's best as a scorer he was also an adequate distributor, particularly in transition, and he's someone that could be used as either a point or shooting guard. Dangerous in the pick and roll with his ability to pull up at any moment he can be a primary initiator of an offense or he can be a floor spacer away from the ball that can bury three-balls or attack closeouts.
Coby White checks a lot of the boxes when it comes to scouting a future All-Star and I wouldn't be surprised if some teams value him as the top point guard in the draft due to his shooting ability blended with quickness. The frantic pace of North Carolina might have made White look a bit out of control at times but his scoring ability will make him a hot commodity on draft day.
Sometimes shooting can be tough to project from a one-and-done player due to the shortened college line, the low number of games, and the amount of those games that come against lackluster competition.
Even though he's a one-and-done, Coby White is a proven shooter.
Let's start with the raw numbers. He shot 35.2% from three on heavy volume, 6.7 attempts per game to be exact. That is a solid percentage but it's not one that going to knock your socks off. However, he didn't shoot it as well in the softer non-conference part of the schedule and actually converted at a much better 38.5% once he got to the much more challenging league play.
Perhaps the most interesting statistic about his shooting is the fact that he took 73 three-point shots from NBA range and hit 42.5% of those attempts. With that number in mind teams should know he is a legitimate three-point threat at the NBA level.
White is extremely difficult to contain off the dribble. His speed puts a ton of pressure on his defender to protect the paint but he's got the pull up jumper to punish them if they give him too much space. Once he gets a step on his man he can also be a decent passer, usually keeping his eyes up for a potential cutter or a relocating spot up shooter. If he decides to take it all the way to the cup he's got an advanced set of finishing skills for a player of his age and that adds even more to his offensive arsenal.
It's not often a prospect differentiates himself with his ability to score and distribute in transition but White's work within North Carolina's system showed he can create baskets about of nothing with his play on the fast break. A whopping 31.1% of White's offense generated came from transition and his ability to create points without the team having to run any offense could be a very valuable trait for a team looking to be creative in how they score.
There have been a lot of speedy guards to come through the draft the last few years and almost all of them were average to below-average shooters. The fact White has speed demon qualities coupled with the ability to shoot the lights out makes him one of the most interesting backcourt players we've seen and I think he will provide tremendous value at pretty much whatever pick he's selected at.
One of the ways analytics have changed the modern NBA game is that teams are sending less players to the offensive glass and are instead falling back to eliminate fast break opportunities for the other team. That could make transition opportunities extremely difficult for White and teams might not see him as a stud when the game slows down and he's got to execute in the half court.
While White is listed with great size for a point guard at 6'5" he only has a 6'4" wingspan and that makes him play a bit smaller than his height would suggest. The speed he possesses is at the cost of muscle weight and his slender frame is going to have to be worked on for him to be less bothered by contact. He can get bumped off the ball by stronger guards which can slow him down at times and for White slowing down is the last thing you want.
Defensive instincts are lacking for White and he is often guilty of getting out of a stance and getting beat because of it. Standing straight up doesn't allow him to use the speed he possesses but unfortunately we see far too much of it from him. With his foot speed you'd probably expect him to hound ball handlers and shoot passing lanes for steals but that wasn't ever the case in college and he currently doesn't project as a plus defender and he quite possibly won't even be an average defender.
Projected Draft Position: 5-9
Projected NBA Role: Volume shooter.
NBA Comparison: Brandon Knight