What if I told you that a former Colorado Buffalo dropped 35 points in game 1 of the NBA finals? You’d probably tell me I’m crazy — or that it was Chauncey Billups against the Lakers in 2004.
While the two answers are false, the first statement is true. Derrick White, starting point guard for the NBA G League Austin Spurs, poured in 35 points in the Finals against Raptors 905. White, who hails from Parker, CO, has been the San Antonio Spurs’ G League affiliate’s primary weapon this entire season. Raptors 905, the Toronto Raptors’ affiliate, had no answer for White in the first game of the best-of-three series. Not only did White have 35 points on 11-for-20 shooting and 10-for-10 free throw shooting ]\, he added three rebounds and three assists to finish +13 for the game.
White is familiar with getting buckets. Before transferring to CU in 2015, he led the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs Mountain Lions to a 21-9 record his sophomore year. White was the first All-American in program history and scored a program-record 22.2 points per game. He racked up 38 points against CSU-Pueblo for the most in a conference game in program history. In 2015, White transferred to CU Boulder, sitting out his first season for eligibility purposes. In 2016, he led the Buffaloes to a 19-15 record while leading the team in points, assists and steals per game with 18.1, 4.4, and 1.2 respectively.
White capped off his final collegiate year with 1st team All-PAC 12 honors. White was amongst a star-studded lineup of PAC 12 players who would declare for the NBA draft and become prominent figures in the 2018 season. Here are some other 1st team All-PAC-12 players from 2016: Markelle Fultz, first pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. Lonzo Ball, Los Angeles Lakers starting point guard and triple-double machine. Kyle Kuzma, Lonzo Ball’s teammate and potential rookie of the year. Dillon Brooks, starting small forward and prolific scorer for the tanking Memphis Grizzlies. Finally, Lauri Markkanen, Chicago Bulls starting forward who became the fastest player in NBA history to make 100 3-pointers.
Most of Derrick White’s PAC-12 first-team brethren have been incredibly successful in their first years in the NBA. Even though White has not had the same success for the San Antonio Spurs, his time is coming, and that time is soon. In 24 games for the G League Spurs this season, he’s averaged 20.1 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 3.3 assists and is developing into a jack-of-all-trades guard who can be effective on both sides of the ball. San Antonio head coach Gregg Popovich may have no choice but to call up White in the near future as 35 year old Tony Parker‘s career comes to a close. Dejounte Murray has been an excellent first option for Popovich this season, but Parker will have to be replaced within the next two seasons. White can do everything Parker can and more. He’s bigger, faster, stronger, more athletic, younger, and has an extremely high ceiling. In due time, the decision will be clear for ‘Pop’ to improve his Spurs, who won’t win 50 games this season for the first time in 18 years.
Three other Colorado Buffaloes are currently in the NBA. Alec Burks, a deep bench player for the Utah Jazz. Spencer Dinwiddie, the 2018 Taco Bell Skills Challenge champion and potentially the most improved player of the year. Lastly, Andre Roberson of the OKC Thunder, who was one of the best defenders in the NBA before tearing his patellar tendon midway through this season.
Then there’s White, who will have a few years of G League dominance under his belt. With all of the tools and experience necessary to become the next household name in the NBA, Derrick White could be a future NBA All-Star and potentially drop 35 points in the NBA Finals, something former Buffalo Chauncey Billups never did. Sports fans across the country should learn the home grown Coloradan’s name; we might be saying it often for years to come.