Last week after Joe Mazzulla confirmed what we all knew and officially named Derrick White the starting point guard for the 2023-24 Boston Celtics, I wrote a blog about what we should expect to see based on his elevated role while Smart was out with injury for about a month
What I forgot to mention was now that he's the floor general for a high profile franchise with title aspirations, with that comes with some additional media responsibility. It's no different than what the former guy had to deal with
I find this fascinating for someone like Derrick White who is maybe the quietest and most humble NBA player I've ever seen. While some players love and crave the spotlight and want to be the center of attention and all that nonsense, I always got the sense that White never cared about any of that shit, he cared about basketball and basketball only. In fact, you could tell how awkward he was whenever he had to do any sort of interview.
Fast forward to today and White seems so much more comfortable in this new high profile role. He's not really just a role player anymore, he's now the straw that stirs the entire drink. Pressure, expectations, it all goes up from here on out. While Tatum and Brown may be the "leaders" of the team moving forward, White isn't really going to be able to hide in the shadows as he had in previous seasons. Being the starting point guard for the Boston Celtics is a big deal. Media wants to hear from you, fans want to hear from you, it requires you to come out of your shell a little bit.
That was absolutely the case yesterday with White's appearance on NBA Today. We had a lot of interesting nuggets in there so lets dive in
Right off the bat, I can understand why Derrick tried to dodge the question about what adjustments he needs to make now that he's the starter, so I'll answer it for him.
The team has given him the keys, so the next step is to make sure he feels empowered enough to remain aggressive at all times. There's such a clear difference when Derrick plays hesitant basketball compared to when he's aggressive, and for me, it's all confidence. It's why you hear Tatum talk all the time about how important that is. For this team to reach its goal, they need an aggressive Derrick for a full 48. We saw some improvement in that department last year (a breakout season), but that came mostly off ball. Now it's going to have to show up on ball which is a little bit of a different animal.
When the topic came to his potential extension, we got pretty much the exact PR answer you should have expected. Not really thinking about it, loves being in Boston etc. I'll tell you who's thinking about it. Me. You. Everyone. At least you should be. For my money, it's the most important extension left for Brad to figure out. If they don't keep Derrick, I'm not sure how they replace him given where their cap situation will be, and there aren't too many young guards currently on the roster who you feel great about taking over.
Brad certainly has a history of giving early extensions with Rob, Jaylen, Tatum, Al and Smart all getting one. My gut tells me if the Celts view Derrick as the point guard of the future, he too will get an early extension
Granted all those came in the previous CBA, so maybe things will be different moving forward. It's definitely something to keep an eye on next month though, because next season he becomes an expiring and you can potentially lose him for nothing. Whether it happens in September or next summer, this is a big domino in terms of how this team will look moving forward.
It was nice to hear that White understands what we all know. This upcoming season is once again a title or bust year. Last year despite making it a game away from the Finals was a failure. Sorry, that's just what happens when you are a true title contender. You either win the title and it's a success or you don't and it's a failure. I don't care what Giannis says. This team has the talent and the expectations to win that elusive 18th banner, and guard play sure as shit is going to be an important piece of that puzzle.
I also can't lie. Seeing that MIA Game 6 highlight still triggers me. Man, that shit stings. When I saw that putback drop with time left on the clock, it felt like this was really a team of destiny. That shit just does not happen. As it turned out, their destiny was actually something we seem to experience a lot with this team, which is insurmountable pain. Talk about the highest of highs to the lowest of lows all in a matter of days. Wasting that moment is going to haunt me probably until the Celts actually win another title. Sigh.
What I do know is all this interview did was make me even more antsy for October. I'm going to need August and September to move at a much quicker pace. I need to see what Bald Derrick White can do in real NBA games because so far it looks incredible