On Jan. 15, the Atlanta Hawks signed Andrew White to a two-way contract. The ongoing injury struggles that kept DeAndre’ Bembry off of the court for the majority of the 2017-18 season opened potential playing time for young wings seeking an opportunity to break into the league. As a result, the decision to agree to the two-way contract would prove to be fruitful for White as he would end up playing 15 games and more than 200 minutes with the big league club.
It has been an interesting season to watch Atlanta seek opportunities to bring young players through “Hawks University” under new front office leadership. In previous seasons, the blueprint was to bring in players that profiled as strong defenders but with not much in the way of an offensive skill set.
And they certainly have had success with the approach. Although, even in the most successful of recent seasons, the Hawks consistently saw their run end in postseason match ups in which the Hawks could not match the opposing team’s offensive fire power.
In the organization’s first draft under new GM Travis Schlenk, the Hawks selected players in John Collins and Tyler Dorsey that profiled as players with offensive upside but real questions on the defensive end of the court. And as the Hawks filled the periphery of the roster in the second half of the season, both White and Damion Lee are better described as having offensive skills that are much more NBA-ready than any part of their play on defense.
White was one of the better player in the G League this season, both in his play with the Maine Red Claws (before he signed the two way contract with the Hawks) and the Erie Bayhawks. He averaged 16 points per game on 45 percent shooting from the floor and better than 40 percent shooting from the beyond the three-point line. He always performed well as a shooter in his collegiate career and that skill seems to have translated to the professional level.
The former major college standout profiles best off the ball on both ends of the court. So apart from unexpected development, he is unlikely to become much as an offensive creator at the NBA level. But he is a confident shooter that also flashes some ability to contribute on offense as a cutter, although he struggles to finish on contested shots at the rim.
White looks like a very comfortable and confident shooter when he has the opportunity to step into his shot. He has a nice, high release point that makes it tough for defenders to contest his perimeter shots.
He demonstrates excellent recognition on this play as the Hawks catch Detroit’s three biggest defenders on thew strong side of the play. White cuts back door and there is not a defender that can challenge his shot at the rim.
The few times in which White flashed some skill as a passer also came as he was operating in a cutting action. On this play, he makes to the simple pass to the open shooter in the near side corner.
This might be the only successful pick and roll he ran in his brief time with Atlanta. But he does showcase that, when the read is simple and action is contained to the strong side of the floor, he can make the play.
As a defender, White has more than demonstrated that he knows what he is doing. He is consistently in the right spot and knows how to operate as a help defender. Beyond that, his communication appears to be solid.
He displays a lot of situational awareness and on this play in transition defense. White recognizes that Markelle Fultz sees Miles Plumlee in the middle on the defense floor and kicks it into gear with intent on attacking the rim.
White communicates and exchanges position with Plumlee and is able to deter and occupy Fultz long enough to allow Plumlee to get out and challenge the three-point attempt from Dario Saric.
Even though he works hard on defense when defending in the primary action, the young wing struggles to stay attached to his man as he works over screens. An example arrives on this play in which JJ Redick is able to get separation and a fairly uncontested shot attempt.
White can struggle on the defensive end to rebound at times against bigger opponents. On this play, while he gets decent initial position, James Ennis is able to create the space at the rim to get the put back and the score.
In the end, one would likely consider White’s first professional season to be a success. He appears to be player who knows the game, can knock down perimeter shots and works hard on both ends of the court.
Considering the opportunity that the Hawks organization gave Andrew White this season, it would not be a surprise to see him end up with the team down the line in Summer League play (in both Utah or Las Vegas), where it would appear there would be a fairly open competition to chase one of a number of roster spots heading towards preseason camp in the fall.