In advance of the 2017 NBA Draft, Peachtree Hoops will be breaking down a wide variety of players that could be available for the Atlanta Hawks at either No. 19 or No. 31 (er, No. 41). The series will stretch throughout the month of June and today’s post breaks down Colorado senior Derrick White.
Atlanta’s need for shooting and strong history with upperclassmen has kept Derrick White consistently linked with the Hawks. In a previous analysis of the draft, I connected White as a likely pick at No. 31 given his skill set and Atlanta’s needs particularly if Tim Hardaway, Jr. is not re-signed. Without having any first-hand knowledge of how the Hawks front office approaches this draft, White would appear to be one of 10-12 players that could be targeted on any short list going into draft day.
Despite an outstanding senior offensive season at Colorado, Derrick White remains a low-profile prospect among many fans. He scored 18.3 points per game and delivered 4.3 assists while playing both guard positions. Some scouts project him as a potential point guard but his game better fits being a pure shooting guard who has upper tier skill in handling the basketball and delivering it on time to teammates.
A lack of an elite first step and the desire to look for his own shot first is why he projects better at the shooting guard spot. He should thrive as a secondary ball-handler which will also help him in translating his 40% shooting from the three-point line. The number is made more impressive by how often he took shots while being under pressure and carrying the offensive load for the Buffaloes.
Making 80% of his free throws further supports the legitimacy of his stroke. He has a mixture of maturity (23 years of age) and upside (still learning to play against high-level competition) that is rarely found among rookie guards. White has lottery-level offensive skill for playing at the next level.
White is no slouch on the defensive end but does have question marks. He is eager to defend players in man-to-man but his agility and length are not elite. Scouts have to like his willingness to compete yet he is not great at communication on defense—a skill that he can acquire but is unusual for his age. He often gets caught looking to make a spectacular defensive play or loses his man while providing the wrong help. His effort in one-on-one is excellent but he does not recover well when beat.
He should be able to hold his own in defending most average size wing players but he will rarely have physical advantages in these match-ups. He should do well when switched onto point guards but coaches are unlikely to use him in these situations as a primary defender.
Despite these weaknesses, White is a very good athlete overall whose size should not be viewed as a liability. He is a strong candidate to be a player who develops well from year-to-year and would benefit from landing with a team who places value on developing older and younger players.
Fit for the Atlanta Hawks
White is as good a fit for Atlanta as any player in this draft. He does not qualify as the player with the highest ceiling or highest floor yet he is a relatively safe bet to contribute to an NBA rotation before the end of his second season—and increasingly more difficult challenge for rookies due to the improved depth of the league. Atlanta needs shooting and White is the most reliable shooter in the draft other than Duke’s Luke Kennard.
White transferred to Colorado after playing Division II basketball earlier in his career. He is a strong candidate to be the first senior selected in this draft. His shot in its accuracy and form is expected to translate easier than most to the next level. Whether Hardaway is signed or not, White seems like a great fit in the Atlanta system. While the odds of a rookie playing in a rotation on a good team are not strong, White fits the profile of players who make quicker transitions. He makes a lot of sense for Atlanta in a trade down from No. 19 overall, even if it is unlikely White falls to No. 41 under the new post-Howard scenario.