San Antonio Spurs guard Dejounte Murray was expected to have a huge season, but he was just diagnosed with a torn ACL. While this is a huge loss for the Spurs, it does provide Derrick White with a big opportunity.
After losing superstar Kawhi Leonard as well as Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili this offseason, we had previously written about how White could have a regular role in the rotation for San Antonio. Now that Murray is out for the foreseeable future and rookie Lonnie Walker is also out as he recovers from a torn meniscus, White could be propelled into the starting lineup.
Even though the Spurs have veteran Patty Mills available alongside stars DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge, it’s clear that White offers a lot more upside for the rebuilding franchise.
White was most often used as a spot-up shooter last season, but he has also performed well when given bigger roles. During his sole collegiate seasons, he led the Pac-12 in points scored while finishing Top 10 in both assists and blocks.
He was dominant in the G League, where he was a primary option, averaging 20.1 points and 5.0 rebounds along with 1.3 steals and 1.7 blocks per game. He led the Austin Spurs to the G League championship last season.
Most recently, White averaged 27.6 points, 8.0 rebounds and 8.4 assists per 36 minutes in summer league. He was also arguably the best player for Team USA’s World Cup Qualifying Team during training camp this offseason ahead of the World Cup Qualifying Round.
The 22-year-old has had experience as the ball-handler in pick-and-rolls when he was used for San Antonio in the NBA. White finished 31.3 percent of his possessions with this play type for the Spurs and it was how he shined when at Colorado.
He arguably has a more polished offensive game than Murray, who was more known as a young defensive stud. White, however, has shown a strong upside on defense as well.
Especially if he plays alongside proven veterans like Aldridge, DeRozan, Rudy Gay and Pau Gasol, his lack of experience may not be such a problem for San Antonio. Mills would offer stability off the bench next to developing talents like Jakob Poeltl and White could grow into a more seasoned player with starting minutes.