Trending worldwide on twitter. Twice. In one week! World, meet Derrick White.
A day after scoring a career high 36 points to lead the San Antonio Spurs to a 2-1 lead in their first round series over the Denver Nuggets, White is still the buzz of the NBA world. All over social media, people are asking who is this guy?
Real Spurs fans already know the answer this question. One of the joys of being a Spurs fan is watching the players who the Spurs draft, late in the first round or even the second, develop and have a successful NBA career and, in the case of Ginobili and Parker, blaze a course to the Hall of Fame.
In the case of White, I have been fortunate to witness his early NBA Development during NBA Summer League in Las Vegas in 2017, the 2018 NBA G League Finals and again in Las Vegas in 2018 for NBA Summer League. I thought it would be fun to take a trip down memory road and relive some of White's lesser know moments with the Spurs.
2017 NBA Summer League
Averaged 15 points, 2.67 rebounds, 1.33 assists and 1 steal in 3 games
With Dejounte Murray and both White and second round pick Jaron Blossomgame on the roster, the Spurs entered Summer League in 2017 with lots of talent on the roster. While the summer heated up for Bryn Forbes (and the hastag #SummerofBryn was born), things started slowly for White who tweaked his ankle in the Spurs second game. “Hopefully, it’s a little sore, a little tight so they did not want to push him too hard this early in the summer. They will revaluate him tomorrow morning”, Coach Will Hardy said at the time when asked if White would play in the next game. White went on to average 15 points in the three games he played in Vegas. It was clear at the start of the season that he would be spending most of his rookie season in the G League.
2018 NBA G League Finals
Averaged 32.8 minutes, 24.8 points, 4.8 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 1.8 steals and 1.8 blocks in 4 playoff games
White’s rookie campaign got off to a frustrating start as he suffered a fractured right wrist during his second game while on assignment to Austin Spurs.
After White returned from the injury, he went on to average 20 points during 24 regular season games with the Austin Spurs before becoming a force during the G League playoffs.
White opened the playoffs with 20 points against the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. He followed this up by dropping 35 points on the South Bay Lakers in the Western Conference finals, White exploded for 35 points in the first game of the G League Finals. This is the probably the most excited I have ever been watching a game on Facebook Live (or was it Twitch at the time?).
I was fortunate to be at the Hersey Centre in Mississauga as the finals moved north for Game 2. While White had a quiet offensive game (G League Finals MVP Nick Johnson, Olivier Hanlan and Jeff Ledbetter did most of the scoring), White’s all round game was on full display with 6 assists, 5 rebounds, 4 steals and block.
2018 NBA Summer League
Averaged 18.5 minutes, 11.5 points, 2.5 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1 block in 2 games
After lighting up Summer League in Utah (23 points per game), there was some question of whether White would even play in Las Vegas.
White was indeed the line-up for the Spurs in their game and led the way with 19 points. While struggling with his shot from the field, going 6-18, he was aggressive and went to the line 9 times. It was becoming clear that White could impact the game by more than just his scoring.
Expecting White to be shut down soon, the Spurs hand was force as White sat out the second half of the Spurs next game with a hamstring strain. “Our history is to be careful with these guys, especially at summer league. We’ll let the medical team take a look at him and see how he comes back.” said Coach Hardy.
That was it for White for the Summer. As we all know now, the best was yet to come!