Boston Celtics: Keep telling Derrick White he can’t shoot threes

Boston Celtics guard Derrick White (9) Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
Boston Celtics guard Derrick White (9) Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports /

Psst! Yeah, you. Listen. Keep this on the DL, but…Derrick White can’t shoot. That’s right, Boston Celtics fans. Derrick White can’t shoot. Got it? Good. Don’t you forget it.

That was the scouting report on the 6-4 guard acquired from the San Antonio Spurs at the trade deadline. White is a solid point guard, a secure ball handler, and an excellent defender.

But when he was traded to Boston, it was said that White was a terrible 3-point shooter. Truth is, he wasn’t always a liability from deep. In 2018-19 White shot .338, he shot a career high .366 in 2019-20, and .346 in 2020-21.

But in 2021-22, White’s percentage crashed down to .314. As a Celtic, White has been even worse. His 3-point shooting is down to .306 in 26 games. But in his last nine games, White is shooting .486 from distance.

Don’t ask what happened to White that has him shooting like Stephen Curry from behind the arc. Don’t ask White what did he change recently to find his range. Maybe White hanging around Payton Pritchard and Grant Williams is rubbing off on him in a very positive way.

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Imagine: In his first 17 games as a Celtic, White shot an abysmal .216 on three pointers. But over his last nine games, White has increased his three point percentage by almost 100 points.

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Hopefully this version of White is here to stay as the Boston Celtics face the team the rest of the Eastern Conference wanted to avoid: the Brooklyn Nets. Boston will be led by Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, but they can’t beat Brooklyn on their own.

On the nights the Jays can’t get their offense going, it will be up to the bench to pick them up. Already short-handed without Robert Williams, contributions from the bench could be the difference in this series.

The Celtics can count on G-Will. Pritchard has earned his role if head coach Ime Udoka calls his number this series. White backs up Marcus Smart, so his minutes are guaranteed. White being on his game will be integral to slowing down Kyrie Irving.

Part of White’s role will be to make Irving work on defense and keep Kyrie and the Nets honest. Tatum will see some double teams during the series. Brown might as well. Don’t be surprised when a zone is waiting for the Celtics after crossing half court sometimes either.

And word is Ben Simmons could make his Nets debut during the series, maybe as soon as Game 4. If Nets head coach Steve Nash plays this wild card, Boston’s bench has more urgency to perform at peak levels.

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Brooklyn will dare the Celtics to beat them without Tatum or Brown. Pritchard and Williams have made the Nets pay for gambling off of them. White has to do the same. White has to keep on doing what he’s not supposed to be able to do.