D.J. White making up for lost time

Darnell Mayberry Published: July 18, 2009
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LAS VEGAS — In his first two games, Thunder forward D.J. White looked perhaps like he should have looked, considering he’s only mildly more experienced than rookies Serge Ibaka and Byron Mullens.

White was hesitant from the outside and tentative on the inside, scoring only 11 points with six rebounds in 34 minutes over his first two games in Las Vegas. But in the Thunder’s past two contests, White has resembled the player who was the Big Ten Player of the Year and the 29th overall pick in 2008.

"I started off slow,” White said. "The first game wasn’t too hot for anybody. The second game I left the game early. (Thursday) I just tried to get my feel back, get in there and be more physical and rebound.”

White delivered perhaps his best performance in Las Vegas in Friday night’s 80-74 loss to Chicago. He scored 15 points with eight rebounds and two blocked shots in 25 minutes. He made six of 11 shots from the field and perhaps most impressively was whistled for only one foul, a sign of solid, fundamental defense.

"Scoring is not the issue,” White said. "It’s just (about) me getting better on the defensive end and with defensive rebounding ... I think in particular it’s just getting more comfortable with the pick-and-roll and different coverages we might have. I think I’ve done an OK job, but it’s room for improvement in that area and also rebounding.”

White played in only seven games last season because of a benign growth in his jaw. But the Thunder has high hopes for the former Indiana star, and this summer is a valuable stepping stone for White to regain the rhythm he lost from being idle so long.