SAN ANTONIO - During a recent visit to Morgan’s Wonderland, Spurs guard Derrick White spent time fishing, riding the merry go-round and train with children at the amusement park.
“It means a lot to me just to be out here and spend time with them and talk to them,” White said. “Just trying to have fun with them and hopefully it makes their day better.”
The surprise visit for kids with and without special needs, and community outreach was a bit of a respite from hours in the gym for what’s going to be a crucial summer for the Spurs’ third-year guard.
White blossomed this year, somewhat unexpectedly, for the Spurs.
The former late first-round draft pick averaged nearly 10 points, four assists and 3.7 rebounds per game this season.
He played in only 17 regular season games during his rookie year and 67 in his second year due a nagging foot injury.
White was also thrust into the starting point guard position due to Dejounte Murray’s injury and became the Spurs best perimeter defender, garnering NBA all-defensive team votes.
“I learned so much this season,” White said. “The player I was to start and the player I am now is just night and day.”
The learning curve hit a rough road at the end in the playoffs.
White averaged 23 points per game through the first three games of the Spurs’ first-round series against Denver.
That included a 36-point outing in Game 3. It also quickly caught the attention of the Nuggets players and coaching staff.
Denver focused its defense on White and switched primary defenders on the guard.
White averaged only nine points per game for the rest of the series.
His goal since the Spurs’ Game 7 loss has only been to get better.
“It’s something I can build off of and learn from the mistakes,” White said. “Learn what works and doesn’t work and try to build from there.”
#Spurs Derrick White (@Dwhite921) recently surprised kids @MorgansWndrlnd...spoke about visit, lessons from last season, Tony Parker, where he wants to take his game. 'Been in the gym..the player I was to start and the player I am now is night and day' (📹@markmendez) #KSATsports pic.twitter.com/UJUgsPG8lj — RJ Marquez (@KSATRJ) June 19, 2019
A key to White’s development is becoming a more consistent shooter from outside and 3-point range.
As a team, the Spurs ranked first in the league in 3-point team shooting percentage, but near the bottom in the amount of 3-pointers made per game.
“I feel like I was too streaky so I just want to improve that. That’s what I am focusing on this summer,” White said.
White is part of a Spurs young core of guards that mixed with veterans DeMar DeRozan and Patty Mills is expected to be an area of strength next season.
After a disappointing end to the season, but promising second year overall, White is hoping to take his game and the team to the next level.
“Been in the gym, trying to focus on some things. As the summer goes on I’ll turn it up a little more,” White said.
He’s already off to a good start this summer. Before he ended his visit at Morgan’s Wonderland, White was asked if he was going to the gym afterward to get in a workout.
“That’s where I was before I got here,” White said.
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