G Derrick White, San Antonio Spurs: The Spurs took a convincing home win over the Denver Nuggets last night, 118-108, pushing the series to a 2-1 lead. The second-year guard led the team with 36 points on 15-21 shooting, 5 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals in 33 minutes of action. His performance was so impressive and ‘vet-like’ that he ended up in the record books.
White became only 1 of 6 players ever to score at least 40 points at 68% shooting or better in the first 6 games of their playoff career occurring within their first two seasons as a professional (http://bkref.com/tiny/ip2rK). He also was only 1 of 8 players to ever win a playoff game in his first two years and 6 career games, while scoring 30+ points and shooting greater than 71.4% from the floor (http://bkref.com/tiny/e1pFR).
All the more impressive has been White’s rapid rise to NBA relevancy. The young native of Colorado did not receive a scholarship offer coming out of high school opting to walk on at Division 2 University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. There he quickly became a leading player for the Mountain Lions notching multiple 30 point games each of his 3 seasons at the school. His final year eligibility was spent in Boulder at Division 1 University of Colorado, where he tallied 11 games of 20+ points and 4 more at 30+.
Drafted in 2017, White spent time between the pro team and its G-league affiliate in Austin learning the ropes of NBA play. He even gained some time in the playoffs against Golden State. However, it has become clear that White is ready for a bigger level and was the starting point guard for Gregg Popovich. It will be a welcome site for Spurs fans next season when injured star Dejounte Murray is back healthy with the team and paired with White in the backcourt.
Forwards Kevon Looney (Golden State Warriors) and Montrezl Harrell (Los Angeles Clippers): The impact of Looney and Harrell have only grown, with respect to each subsequent game, regarding added depth and production to the teams in this series. As mentioned in an article I wrote last weekend, the pair of young forwards have been shooting and scoring the ball at an exceptional rate in this series. However with time and more shooting, the percentages are dropping off at a minimal rate at best.
Kevon Looney — Montrezl Harrell
Game 1 — 3-4 (75%), 6 points — 11-15 (73.3%), 26 points
Game 2 — 6-6 (100%), 19 points — 9-9 (100%), 25 points
Game 3 — 5-7 (71.4%), 10 points — 6-10 (60%), 15 points
Total — 14-17 (82.6%), 35 points — 26-34 (76.5%), 66 points
Both players have managed to join an elite group of forwards and centers in NBA history to have made at least 14 FGs and converted at least 76.5% of them in the first 3 games of a playoff series (http://bkref.com/tiny/qLh11). Only 8 players have made the accomplishment, but only Chris “Birdman” Andersen was more productive off the bench than Looney or Harrell. Even more exclusive, 8 players in NBA history regardless of position have performed the feat and Harrell is second on that list when isolating the list to starting OR bench roles. Additionally, Looney and Harrell were the first players to accomplish the extremely high level of shooting in the same series.
The Warriors now hold a 2-1 lead in the series, after last night’s game, but these two forwards have peaked my attention going forward. It remains to be seen how much their careers can blossom from here.