Long before Derrick White helped the Boston Celtics reach the NBA Finals, he was a key member of the San Antonio Spurs’ backcourt rotation.
The Spurs and Celtics agreed on a midseason trade that sent White to Boston. Since this deal, he has played an important role for his new team. Perhaps the move, which doesn’t require much adjustment, helped.
The Spurs influence instilled in San Antonio by Celtics coach Ime Udoka after his long history as a player and assistant coach was evident to White. The system at both ends has many fundamental similarities.
“A lot of the system is similar and everything. Obviously with coach Udoka’s time at San Antonio,” White said.
While White’s perimeter shooting execution isn’t always the most consistent, he hasn’t been short on timed shots in the playoffs. He was a helpful supplemental talent with high-tier defense and playmaking added to it.
The elite defensive end the Celtics have produced as a unit since their midseason turnaround has been the foundation of their deep playoff run. An adjustment for White was the emphasis on not fouling.
“In San Antonio we put a lot of emphasis on not fouling,” said White. “To keep her [opponents] out of line. Obviously they don’t want stupid fouls here [Boston] but i’m just trying to be more physical. Just little things like that.”
Physical defense without fouling was a big adjustment for White, but it had to be made nonetheless.
“It wasn’t a huge difference, but just a small adjustment I had to make,” White said.
Whether or not the Celtics win the NBA Finals this season, White will be an important part of their team long-term as they continue to build around Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.
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