5 things to know about Derrick White, the Celtics’ new defensive guard
For the second season in a row, the Celtics made a swing at the trade deadline with an eye on the playoffs, trading reserve guards Josh Richardson and Romeo Langford and a first-round pick for Spurs guard Derrick White.
But unlike last year, when the Celtics’ big move brought in Evan Fournier to provide more scoring assist, the acquisition of White looks like a move that’s much more geared towards locking things down on the defensive end.
In Brad Stevens’ eyes, the shrewd, defensive guard is just what the Celtics need to get the most out of stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.
“We thought for years that Derrick was a really good match for our best players,” said Stevens, president of Boston basketball operations. “He’s a great defender. He just plays the right game in attack over and over and over again. He’s a guy who only cares about winning, who will do all the little things as you can see in some of his defensive stats in terms of willingness to put your body on the line, activity, shooting challenges, all those things… you don’t need to do anything to be in the highlights to really have an impact on the victory. So we identified it a long time ago.
In a way, the addition of White almost gives the Celtics another version of Marcus Smart, albeit averaging a few more points per game – White averages 14.4 points each game while Smart located at 11.5. Both also dole out the basketball on offense — each averages more than five assists per game — giving the Celtics options on how to deploy them alongside Tatum and Brown as well as backups. White will likely come off the bench with Smart remaining in the starting lineup.
Interestingly, White also fits the bill for someone who can help Boston in the long run rather than just 2022. He just signed a four-year contract with Spurs this season, meaning the Celtics have him under their control until the summer of 2025. That factor likely helped Stevens shell out a first-round pick for the to bring to town, which he acknowledged was “not without risks”, but it was worth it to have someone who was “a perfect fit for our top players.”
The Celtics executive then suggested that players like White and experienced reserve center Daniel Theis, who was bought out after being traded from Boston last year, will make Boston more difficult in the playoffs.
“It’s not just about the next three months with [them]. This is, again, adding guys you can see playing in a knocked-down, trailing seven-game playoff series. And you know they can be on the court and play a role in helping you win.
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