Derrick White Gets Team USA Promotion Despite Uneven Play During Exhibition Game

Derrick White struggled at times during Friday night’s exhibition game between Team USA and the Select Team. He finished with a team-high 12 points and a game-high eight assists for the Select Team, however he shot just 4-for-13 from the floor, missed all five of his three-pointers and turned it over seven times. Despite the miscues, White received a promotion to the Team USA squad.

Grading Derrick White’s Play During Team USA Exhibition Game

In the days leading up to the exhibition game, White was reportedly playing great basketball. In fact, there were multiple reports that he was outplaying everyone — both on Team USA and on the Select Team — during the scrimmages. 

During the exhibition game, even though he came off the bench, White was obviously a focal point for the Select Team. Playing mostly at point guard, he was tasked with getting the team into its sets and running the offense. While he had his moments, I’d classify it as an underwhelming outing. To put a grade on it, I’d give White a C- or a D+.

On one hand, White looked like the best passer on the court. His court vision was impressive, as was his patience during pick-and-roll sets. He had little trouble creating shots for himself. Defensively, he was solid help-wise.

On the other hand, I thought White’s decision-making was much worse than usual. His seven turnovers were a result of poor passes and just unusually low basketball IQ plays. (By my count, he actually had more than seven turnovers.) To be fair, he was on an undermanned team and White was forced to push the envelope at times in order to try to generate offense.

Defensively, I wasn’t too impressed, either. He couldn’t stay in front of De’Aaron Fox and was too often caught flat-footed. While not many basketball players can stay in front of Fox, White could have helped his cause by spacing him using his defensive smarts and superior length.

All in all, White was probably pressing a bit and just never found any rhythm. That said, he still produced adequately and he apparently had already showed enough in the scrimmages to be worthy of the Team USA promotion.

Path For Derrick White To Make The Team USA Final Roster

In addition to White, Marvin Bagley III also got elevated to the senior team. At the same time, Team USA cut Bam Adebayo and Thaddeus Young. 

The Team USA roster currently has 17 players. Two days before the World Cup in China, Team USA needs to cut the roster down to 12 players. Two players, Kyle Lowry and Marcus Smart, are injured but could be cleared for action as soon as next week.

If Lowry and/or Smart aren’t cleared in time for the World Cup, that would obviously help White’s chances of making the final roster. Realistically, White is battling with Fox, Lowry, Smart and Joe Harris for a pair of open guard spots behind starters Kemba Walker and Donovan Mitchell.

It’s also possible that Gregg Popovich and Jerry Colangelo decide they’ll need White’s playmaking and defensive versatility in China. It just so happens that two of White’s main strengths are exactly what Team USA could need most heading into the World Cup, depending on which guards are healthy.

Going forward, Team USA will practice next week in Los Angeles. On Aug. 16, the next exhibition game will take place, this time between Team USA and Spain. The team heads to Australia on Aug. 17, so it’d make sense for the next round of cuts to take place after the game against Spain.