The first thing that will jump out at you when you see D.J. White in a Thunder uniform is his slimmed-down frame. But after overcoming the initial shock of how the Thunder rookie no longer looks like a power forward, your next reaction will be amazement at how effective he is at playing like one.
With his home white Tulsa 66ers jersey sagging off his shoulders Saturday night, White showed why the Thunder is so fond of his skill set and why team officials believe those talents could have a major impact on Oklahoma City’s roster. White scored 20 points with eight rebounds, two assists, two blocked shots and two steals to help the 66ers post a 98-97 win over the Los Angeles D-Fenders on Saturday at the SpiritBank Events Center. To understand the significance of White’s performance, consider that it was only the second game he’s played since March 21, 2008, when his Indiana team lost to Arkansas in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. White, the 29th overall pick, has missed the first five months of his rookie pro season while recovering from two surgeries to remove and repair a benign growth in his jaw. He lost more than 15 pounds during his recovery because of limitations on his diet and is now a slender 227 pounds, still eight pounds below his ideal playing weight. But after being cleared last Monday to resume all full-contact activities, White scored 15 points with 10 rebounds and five turnovers off the bench in his debut against the Colorado 14ers last Wednesday. On Saturday, he built on that performance, starting the game at center and hitting 7 of 13 shots while playing 40 minutes. White’s knack for rebounding is something Thunder players and coaches have praised all season but must be seen to be believed just how good he is on the glass. Listed at 6-foot-9, White dominated against 6-foot-11 D-Fenders center Gabriel Hughes and 7-foot center Earl Barron, using his 7-foot wingspan to make up for what he lacks in height. "He just knows how to play the game,” said 66ers coach Paul Woolpert.