The Cleveland Cavaliers landed the No. 5 overall pick in this year’s draft. At this point, it’s not clear who the team has their eye on. There are several talented players worth consideration, including North Carolina Tar Heels guard Coby White.
With the fifth pick, the Cavs will have options. Most experts believe Duke’s Zion Williamson will go first overall to the New Orleans Pelicans. The second pick, which will be made by the Memphis Grizzles, will likely go to Murray State’s Ja Morant. Cleveland, who is in the process of a rebuild, will need to choose a player who fits their aspirations.
If he is still available at No. 5, the Cavaliers will need to consider White. At 6-foot-5, 185 pounds, he could play a variety of positions in the NBA, though he’s most comfortable at guard.
The first element of White’s game that catches the observant eye is his sheer speed on the floor. Often times, he blows right by defenders with his first step. And while it’s true that he has an aggressive scorers mentality, he’s also willing to find the open man.
“He’s always a threat,” Virginia coach Tony Bennett told The Daily Tar Heel, referring to White. “He’s quick, he’s triple-threat, he can really hit you in transition.”
White also has an innate ability to score the rock. The 19-year-old can get himself open from just about anywhere on the court, and his length allows him to see over defenders in most cases. His release is quick and fluid as well, which should serve him well in the NBA. Furthermore, White is capable of going “microwave” at the drop of a hat. When he starts heating up, opposing sides know they have a problem on their hands.
In 35 appearances with the Tar Heels, White racked up averages of 16.1 points on 42.3 percent shooting from the field (35.3 percent from beyond the arc), 4.1 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 1.1 steals in 28.5 minutes per outing. He also knocked down 80 percent of his shots at the free-throw line, which is another endearing trait for any interested NBA team.
For his outstanding play as a freshman with UNC, White earned Second Team All-ACC honors. In high school, he was North Carolina’s Mr. Basketball and a McDonald’s All-American. Further adding to his legend, White actually broke Michael Jordan’s freshman scoring record. His Airness had 460 points, while White scored 547 points.
White, who led the Tar Heels to the NCAA’s Sweet Sixteen round as a freshman, isn’t just a scorer, though. He’s also a solid defender. He has a knack for staying in front of his opponents on defense, and his hands are always active.
The Cavs selected Collin Sexton with the No. 8 overall pick in last year’s draft. Like White, Sexton is has been blessed with speed. If paired together, they would likely be one of the fastest backcourts in the NBA. And furthermore, both players are young, which would leave Cleveland with a lot of potential for the future.
There is a lingering question revolving around White, however, and it has to do with positioning. His length would allow him to play shooting guard, but some teams are interested in making him their point guard. For the Cavs, it would likely be the former, as Sexton is already the team’s starting point guard.