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D.J. White Likes Charlotte’s Future
Posted By Susan Bible On August 3, 2011 @ 1:00 pm In All,Main Page,NBA | No Comments
With anxiety about the upcoming 2011-12 NBA season on our minds during this long and hot summer, it’s nice to reach out to players to get their pulse on various things. We did exactly that, and our efforts resulted in having a great conversation with one of the nicest players in the league: D.J. White of the Charlotte Bobcats.
In White’s short three-year NBA career he’s weathered through countless challenges.
Let’s back up just a bit first.
White enjoyed a four-year college career at Indiana; in his senior year, his attention-grabbing averages of 17.4 points per game and 10.3 rebounds per game led to the 2008 Big Ten Player of the Year title being bestowed upon him. He also led the nation in field-goal shooting percentage (.605).
He was picked in the first round of the 2008 NBA Draft (No. 29) by the Detroit Pistons; a draft-day trade landed him with Oklahoma City Thunder franchise. Instead of having the chance to cement his spot as a rotation player at the start of the season, the 6’9″ forward instead faced medical issues and surgeries unrelated to basketball. As a result, he only appeared in seven games during his rookie year.
The next two seasons consisted of a flurry of D-League assignments (where he shined) and marginal playing time with the Thunder (due to the teams’ depth), culminating in a trade last February to the Charlotte Bobcats.
“I looked at it as ‘it’s part of the business’. No hard feelings at all,” White told HOOPSWORLD about the trade. “I’m still in contact with those guys. We had a special bond. I was pulling for them during the playoffs.”
However difficult it was to leave the only NBA team he had known, White embraced the move.
“It was an opportunity to get on the court and further my career,” he explained.
In Charlotte, White did get that opportunity for immediate playing time with Tyrus Thomas out with injury. He turned heads in his third game against the Los Angeles Lakers, scoring 11 points, grabbing seven rebounds, blocking two shots, and shooting field goals at .714 in 19.19 minutes of playing time. In just 24 total games with Charlotte, White averaged 8.5 ppg, 4.4 rpg, .526 FG% at 19.4 mpg.
He took real advantage of the extended playing time with his new team and was able to show his solid mid-range jumper, team defense and high-energy hustling. He may have surprised some people. A quick check of his “Per 36 Minutes” stats shows career double-digit scoring (average 15.3 ppg) and 8.4 in rebounding. His PER (Player Efficiency Rating) in 2008-09 was an unbelievable 25.9 (in twelve games) and a respectable 17.7 last year.
White is under contract for the upcoming season. The following year, Charlotte has the option of extending him a qualifying offer, thereby making him a restricted free agent. Of course, the collective bargaining agreement may affect the numbers. White feels like he found a good home.
“I would love to be there long term,” he shared. “They really gave me an opportunity to get out on the court and show what I can do. Love the fans, city and my teammates.”
Ideally, White would be working with the team’s staff and using the facilities right now, capitalizing on the solid effort he displayed in Charlotte and preparing for the 2011-12 season. The NBA lockout has prevented any such contact with the team.
We asked White if the reality of the lockout had set in yet, or would it not seem real until training camp days were missed.
“It has set in, just for the fact (we) have no communication and can’t work with our coaches when you’re in town,” he responded.
“I’m following it (the lockout) from all the updates we get.”
Bobcats coach Paul Silas advised his players the most important job they have during this lockout is to stay in shape.
White received that message loud and clear.
“I’m currently working out with Eric Gordon (White’s former Indiana teammate, now with the Los Angeles Clippers) and a college teammate of mine, Earl Calloway, who plays in Spain. Our strength coach from college, Jeff Watkinson, is working us out.”
Silas had targeted White for participation in the 2011 Las Vegas Summer League, but the lockout effectively ended that annual event. White sounded wistful when we asked him if missing development time, such as that gained in the Summer League, hurt players who are still carving out their place.
“I think it does hurt players in a way,” said White. “Summer League gets you the style and play of your team and NBA.
“Hopefully, we can get a deal done soon and not miss games.”
White is well aware of certain players flocking overseas while the lockout continues. We wondered if he was entertaining the thought of playing abroad.
“No, I haven’t thought about it really,” he answered. “But who knows? I just want to play basketball.
“I don’t think it’s a bad thing,” he continued. “Guys want to play, so I’m behind guys that (get) the chance to go play.”
The Bobcats failed to reach the playoffs (34-48) last year. In fact, they’ve landed in fourth place of the Southeast Conference the past seven years, which is equal to the duration of their franchise’s existence.
In February, the team decided to shake things up. They sent one of their best players, Gerald Wallace, to the Portland Trail Blazers in exchange for three players (Joel Przybilla, Sean Marks and Dante Cunningham) and first-round picks.
This move was reflective of Charlotte’s decision to spark a youth movement; to that end, creating cap space, even rebuilding the team, was deemed necessary.
In June’s draft, Charlotte pulled off some clever maneuvering that sent Stephen Jackson and Shaun Livingston to the Milwaukee Bucks, and brought Corey Maggette to the team with rights to the seventh pick in the draft. They ended up with big man Bismack Biyombo at No. 7 and picked guard Kemba Walker with their ninth pick.
“I think those three guys will help us out a lot,” said White. “In Corey, you have a veteran who’s been around for awhile. (He’ll) pick up the scoring we lost from Jack. Kemba is another quick guard who can do everything, and Bismack will help in the middle with his shot-blocking ability.”
Charlotte’s new general manager, Rich Cho (ex-Thunder assistant general manager), believes they are following a similar path as the Oklahoma City franchise when they shipped out stars Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis and began improving through the draft. White agrees.
“We both at the time had young talent and traded or let go the top two players. We both had first round draft picks and cap space.”
“I like the direction we are going in,” he added. “We have young talent and guys who have been in the league for a while. I think we can be good. We almost made the playoffs last year so I hope we can make it this year.”
White has a plan to stay the course and not let all the lockout talk distract him from his goal.
“Just continue to work every day. I will just try to take advantage of the time if we miss games to continue to get better,” he said.
His talent and great attitude toward working hard, plus an opportunity with the Bobcats, just may take him far in this league.
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