|Team: PMS Torino|
H: 6' 9"|
W: 230 lbs
(29 Years Old)
|RSCI: 14||Agent: Jeffrey Wechsler ||
High School: Hillcrest
Hometown: Tuscaloosa, AL
Drafted: Pick 29 in 2008 by Pistons
Best Case: Leon Powe
Worst Case: Jackson Vroman
Second-year Oklahoma City Thunder allocation player D.J. White was one of the more impressive players we've seen in our two days here, and also one of the more intriguing from an NBA standpoint, showing us precisely why he was a first round pick. Clearly the strongest player in the game, White used his well-built body and solid athleticism to just out-pursue and out-muscle the opposition on the glass and in the post. He finished the game with 17 points and 11 rebounds on 8-13 shooting in 41 minutes of action.
White serves a great purpose here at this Showcase from our perspective, as he provides a clear barometer for what an NBA player actually looks like, and is an excellent measuring stick for which to evaluate other big men D-League prospects off of.
Offensively, White looked deadly from the 15-20 foot range, hitting quite a few shots on the game, including at least one contested fade-away. He also showed prowess in the post with a nice drop-step, as well as finishing with an explosive dunk on a pick-and-roll. Despite not being the quickest or most explosive athlete around, he covers long strides with his moves, and is capable of elevating around the rim and converting thanks to his terrific length when given time to gather himself.
Defensively, White is extremely vocal, makes all the rotations, and definitely still brings the defensive intensity he showed as a senior at Indiana. He's a bit lacking in terms of lateral quickness, which can lead to him getting beat in the post and on the perimeter by quicker foes, but he uses his length and strong base very well to be an effective overall defender.
White has already played rotation minutes in stretches with the Thunder the past two seasons, and might've been more of a regular there if not for various injuries he's suffered since being drafted. He's getting some good experience in this stint in the D-League, and definitely has the potential to break into the Thunder rotation as the season goes on, where he surely will be called back to the NBA at some point.
After not really blowing scouts away with his performance as a redshirt junior, D.J. White has come back very strong in his senior season, improving in virtually all facets of his game, specifically many of those that’ll be important for his potential transition to the next level. The 6’9, lengthy power forward has carved himself out a very nice niche at the college level, and his production and efficiency this season have been outstanding.
One area White’s improved is his back-to-the-basket game, where he’s developed a nice array of moves, with solid footwork to consistently get them off. D.J. White’s go-to move is his turnaround jumper from the 5-8 foot range, which he can impressively use turning off either shoulder. His consistency suffers as he gets farther away from the basket, and he’s shown some reduced effectiveness with it against longer defenders, but this has become a nice staple of his game, and is something that could serve him well in the long-term, though he needs to continue to improve with it. White also makes use of a right-handed hook shot in the lane, with range out to five feet. White adjusts his game to defenses accordingly, relying on these finesse moves when matched against bigger opponents, and attacking the rim using dropstep moves when matched against smaller opponents, showing pretty good sense of what move to use at any given time. His shooting percentage has improved impressively by over 11% thus far this season, and he’s also getting to the free throw line at a considerably better rate.
Another area White’s improved with is his mid-range jumper, which he shows excellent consistency with from the 10-15 foot range, where he can spot up or pull up off one or two dribbles in space. His range doesn’t extend beyond here, but he rarely will stray from his comfort zone with his jump shot, recognizing his limitations. In terms of facing up with the ball, White has shown brief flashes of mini-drives from the 10 foot range, though his handling is suspect and he usually will try to finish the drive with a half floater/half pull-up jumper move that isn’t very effective. This is something he’ll need to work on moving forward.
White also has looked good cutting to the basket, either from the weakside or off pick-and-roll situations, liking to throw down emphatic dunks when in space, but struggling to finish at the rim when contested. His athleticism is just decent, which should be enough to get him by at the next level, but finishing at the rim when contested is something he probably won’t be doing much of. As for the rest of his offensive game, White doesn’t really stand out as a passer, not looking to pass much except to reset in the post, and he does most of his damage on the offensive glass when matched against smaller opponents, not really standing out much for his abilities there.
On the defensive end, White has looked very strong this year, moving well all around the floor on this end of the court, helping his team in multiple ways. Indiana switches between a 3-2 zone (where he plays center) and man-to-man defense, where White finds ways to excel in both. In terms of man-to-man defense, White shows an aggressive stance against bigs in the 5-15 foot range, playing up and using his length to really contest and block shots, always keeping his hands near the ball. He plays well against both face-up and post-up game for the most part, though can really get pushed around in post-up situation against larger opponents, such as Illinois’ Shaun Pruitt. Improving his lower body strength should be a priority. With shot-blocking, White uses his excellent timing and length to be a force in both man-to-man and help situations, making a strong impact. White also looks good in pick-and-roll situations, hedging the ball-handler very aggressively and quickly changing directions to get back to his own man. On the perimeter, White shows an aggressive stance on defense and contests shots out to the three-point range, though his lateral quickness rarely gets tested. In terms of rebounding the ball, White does a very good job on the defensive end, boxing out and pulling in boards close to the basket, while also showing the mobility to pursue boards away from the basket. Here too he has improved considerably this season, grabbing three more rebounds per game per-40 minutes pace adjusted.
As a very young senior (only turning 22 next September), White will be automatically eligible for the draft, where he should get looks strong looks from the late first to the second round. He should consider playing at the Orlando pre-draft camp, where he could look to stand out in quite a few areas. Due to his suspect ball-handling and lack of range on his jump shot, White likely projects as purely a power forward in the NBA, where he could rely on his mid-range jumper, rebounding, and versatile defense to find himself a niche. His finesse post game has more question marks about how it will translate, but could also be a weapon for him. His athleticism isn’t what it used to be due to the numerous injuries he suffered throughout his career, but he has developed into an excellent college player, and is in the midst of a very strong senior season.
The fact that D.J. White is ranked #1 on our list of top returning NBA prospects in the Big 10 probably serves as more of a statement regarding how weak this conference is, rather than any grandiose assertion of his pro potential. While he is undoubtedly an excellent college player, White might not have cracked the top 10 on some of the other top returning prospect lists--for example the Pac-10 or ACC.
Starting with what he does well, there is a lot to like about White as a collegiate player. He’s a strong and extremely tough big man with outstanding length, great hands, and the aggressiveness needed to take advantage of his skills inside the post. Indiana counted on him excessively last year to help carry their stagnant offense, being responsible for 1/5th of their scoring and nearly 1/4th of their free throw attempts. Many of their possessions ended up with the ball in White’s hand, digging in the trenches trying to carve out space in the paint to get his shot off. Indeed, 49% of White’s offense came on post-ups (according to Synergy Sports Technology’s quantified stats), of which he only converted at a 42% clip from the field.
It’s pretty clear from watching his film that White is fairly limited as far as finesse offensively skills go, possessing fairly mechanical footwork and limited touch on his more advanced moves (such as turnaround jumpers). Most of his damage comes from taking advantage of his superior length and strength against inferior opponents, while also showing the aggressive mentality needed to do so. When forced to finish against big men who are just as physically gifted as him, though, he struggles, as he’s not an incredibly explosive athlete. Against a one-handed Greg Oden last year for example, he shot 3-14 from the field (with two of those baskets coming with Oden on the bench), while the eventual #1 pick scored 21 points. He is unable to create offense particularly well for himself facing the basket either, showing average ball-handling skills and an unspectacular first step.
To be able to carve out a niche for himself at the next level, and prove that he’s not an offensive liability, White will have to show that he’s able to space the floor with his perimeter jump-shot. His range currently only extends to about 15 feet, and he rarely attempts to show that unless he’s completely wide open. Only 13% (SST-quantified stats) of his shots come in the form of jumpers, from any range. He possesses a very deliberate release on his follow through, pushing the ball at the basket at times more than he shoots it. He seems to be able to knock down jumpers from 15 feet with solid consistency, but his accuracy seems to waver any further out, which is not a great sign.
Defensively, White is very solid, despite possessing average size at 6-8 or 6-9-- looking particularly promising with his shot-blocking ability. He has terrific timing to compliment his excellent wingspan, allowing him to cover considerable ground and be a real disruptive threat in the paint both from the weak-side and in on-ball situations. At times he’ll give up too much space in the post, knowing he’ll be able to compensate with his length, but this is a typical habit we find amongst collegiate big men with similar shot-blocking ability. His lateral quickness is just average when forced away from the basket, though, making him less effective than desired defending the pick and roll.
All in all, White would be well served to study the career paths of similar sized NBA power forwards such as Udonis Haslem, Donyell Marshall, or Malik Rose. To make it, and stick, he will probably need to show that he can be a consistent threat from mid-range, an excellent rebounder, and a capable defender willing to do the dirty work for his team. He’ll also need to find a good situation where his skill-set is appreciated.
Returning from an injury that cost him most of his sophomore season, D.J. White really stepped up his game during Big-10 play. Despite a slow start, he kept Indiana within striking distance for much of the game today, and was a force on the defensive end.
On the offensive end, White struggled with the constant double teams he faced early on. He turned the ball over on a couple of occasions, and also forced some jumpers from around 18 feet. White eventually adjusted by passing the ball out of the post the second he was double teamed, and thus got some better looks as the possession advanced. Sophisticated footwork and a few counter moves allowed him to get some shorter jumpers off near the basket after he spun the opposite direction of the double team.
Defensively, White was a presence in the paint throughout the entire game. He blocked most of his shots playing help defense, showing good position and quick reaction time while getting to the shots of the UCLA guards. When it came to rebounding, White used his body well, and anticipated the movement of the UCLA big men well to keep them on his back.
It wouldn’t surprise us to see White test his draft stock this season—as that’s been rumored as his plan all year long-- but he will likely have to return to Indiana next season to work his way up the draft boards considering how loaded this draft is with big men. The Hooisers have an excellent recruiting class coming in, and White will be less of a focal point on the offensive end. This means he will receive more one on one looks on the block, and his team will have a great chance at success in the NCAA tournament, something that is very important for NBA personnel if history is any indication.
Despite entering what is now his third season of college basketball, it still feels like we’ve barely gotten a chance to know D.J. White due to the injury problems he’s endured. What you might remember from his freshman year—a skinny and raw jumping jack who got after the ball like no other—barely seems to apply anymore now that he’s back for good hopefully. White seems to have lost much of his explosiveness from what we can tell early on. He gets very little lift off the ground, is lumbering up and down the floor, and is therefore nowhere near the shot-blocking threat he once was. He’s gained some weight, not all of it of the positive variety—and you can tell that he’s still adjusting to his new proportions as it pertains to his playing style.
In the Preseason NIT White struggled against a very weak Lafayette team, picking up more fouls than minutes played before he was finally unleashed deep in garbage time. Against Butler he looked better, but it couldn’t stop his team from losing to the eventual tournament champions. He displayed a pretty smooth post-game here, utilizing nifty footwork and a soft touch on his fade-away jumper, a la Leon Powe. White’s explosiveness could very well return as he gets back into game shape after barely having played over the past year and a half.
Considering his relative lack of size and the fact that his team just doesn’t seem to be that good this year, he doesn’t look like the same type of prospect he was this past summer. Unless his athleticism returns--and in a big way-- sooner rather than later, White might have to put off his not-so-secret plans of declaring for the draft for another year. From what we’ve been told by people close to the situation, it’s something he’s definitely planning on doing and Indiana is quite aware of it.
White was the feature member of Indiana’s touted 2004 recruiting class, and still may have exceeded expectations last season. White uses his 230 pounds and outstanding wingspan about as well as any big man in the country, and is a truly ferocious one-on-one defender. He knows how to get position in the blocks, and will overpower a lot of Big Ten defenders. The real question with White is his height. Is he a true 6’9, or is he more the 6’7 he was listed at in high school. Expect big things from White this season either way. DJ White should eventually find himself in the draft picture, whether it is this spring or in years to come.[Read Full Article]