Forsberg: Everyday Derrick White a luxury for hospital Celtics


On the one-year anniversary of being acquired by the Boston Celtics, Derrick White did what he always does. He punched the clock and turned in an honest day’s work. 

The Celtics knew they were getting a player who fit their desired play style when they traded for White. One of the added bonuses for a team perpetually swatting at a pesky injury bug was White’s ability to stay on the floor.

White has now appeared in all 82 of the possible regular-season games in his one year since joining the Celtics. The only game he’s missed was Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Miami Heat when he traveled back to Boston for the birth of his son, Hendrix. White was back to work soon after.

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On Friday, White celebrated his Boston anniversary by turning in his loudest output in a Celtics jersey. He scored 26 of his career-best 33 points in the first half as Boston built a huge cushion and coasted to the finish line of an 11-point win over the Charlotte Hornets.

"Feels like I've been here forever," said White. "Even though it's only been one year. Just a lot more settled in, know where I'm going, compared to a year ago today where my life kind of just changed at an instant.

"I love being here and it's just been fun playing with this team.”

Everyday Derrick started his 48th game of the season against the Hornets. It was clear almost immediately that he had something special going on with his shot.

After making 9 of 11 shots in the first half, he got a shooter’s bounce off the back rim on an early third-quarter 3 and gave Michael Jordan’s Hornets an MJ-like shrug on his way back up the court.

When the Celtics acquired White, they knew he was an analytics darling. Good things seem to happen when he’s on the court. That’s continued this year with the Celtics owning a plus-9.9 net rating with White on the floor entering Friday’s game. That was the same mark as All-Star Jayson Tatum. Only Robert Williams III had a better mark, albeit in only a slice of the minutes that White and Tatum have logged this season.

White’s defense has been his calling card this year while piling up nearly a block per game. His 53 blocks in 56 games ranks second among all players under 6-foot-7 with only Oklahoma City’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander ahead of him.

But even with three blocks on Friday night, it was White’s offense that took the spotlight against Charlotte.

White’s 3-point percentage crawled closer to 40 percent after he made 8 of 14 triples on Friday night. He takes care of the basketball -- no small feat for a team that routinely fumbled the ball away in the playoffs -- and his 10 assists keyed Boston’s pristine ball movement, especially important as the team navigates without starting point guard Marcus Smart.

If the Celtics can ever get fully healthy -- their preferred starting five has started just one game together this season -- then White might eventually shuffle to a reserve role and bolster an already upgraded bench. But the best thing about White is that he just does whatever he’s asked.

White doesn't complain. He just punches his time card and goes to work.

And with one starter on the injury report seemingly every night, it’s opened the door to elevated minutes for much of this season. After Friday’s win, the Celtics are now 21-4 when White plays 28-plus minutes this season.

Still, the most important part is that he’ll be ready again on Sunday. And probably Tuesday after that. White had an injury scare earlier this season when Smart ran into him causing a neck strain. White sat out the rest of that game and then was right back in the lineup the next outing.

Yes, Everyday Derrick is quietly one of the biggest reasons the Celtics have the best record in the NBA. He keeps showing up and, as the Celtics expected in dealing for him, White keeps making good things happen.

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