It takes a lot for a professional basketball player to have to go from starter to bench. There's sacrificing minutes, swallowing pride and noting that a reserve role could mean the betterment of the team.
San Antonio Spurs point guard Derrick White faced this to start the season with Dejounte Murray back from injury.
This season, White leads the second unit for the Spurs.
However, this role change from starting point guard last season to reserve this season hasn't changed Gregg Popovich's mind about one thing - White has the right stuff for a point guard.
“He’s got a pretty good head on his shoulders and he runs the team pretty well," Popovich said after the team's recent game versus Atlanta.
In his third season, White is posting 12.4 points. 2.7 rebounds and 1.9 assists off the bench. He scored the second most points on the team with 20 versus the Clippers last month, and is one of two Spurs to record double-digits.
For the season, he is averaging a career-best in scoring (12.4) and field goal shooting (51.7%) off the bench in 22.9 minutes per game.
He does all this with a stoic, calm approach. He rarely gets rattled, even when he is on the receiving end of hard foul from Lakers' Dwight Howard that sent him to the court slamming flat on his back side.
Said Popovich: "[H]e’s got a nice even-keel to his temperament."
White scored 20 points in back-to-back games for the first time in his career this season, tallying 21 versus Portland and 20 at the Clippers. So there is proof his offensive punch, and court leadership he provides for the Spurs off the bench is a commodity now and as the season moves forward should he remain on the bench.
With White on the court, the Spurs are a +2.7 and off a -1.3 through seven games played. A small sample size, but serves as a sign of his impact on the court with him leading the team.
"He’s a good passer, and all of those things are good qualities for a point guard," Popovich said.
Follow Jeff Garcia on Twitter: @JeffGSpursZone