The Daily Tar Heel

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Friday January 22nd

Tar Heels in the pros: Find out how these NBA rookies are doing midway through the year

With the midway point of the 2019-20 NBA season upon us, it's time to check on the three Tar Heels selected in the 2019 NBA draft and see how their rookie seasons are going.

Coby White

Despite not starting in a single game this season, White has shown he has the potential to be a solid contributor off the bench for the Chicago Bulls, playing as many as 34 minutes on two occasions.

The former Tar Heel needs to improve on his consistency, though, if he wants to have a shot at becoming a starting point guard on a playoff team.

White averages 24 minutes a game, but hasn't yet scored in double figures in six straight games. He's only achieved that feat in five consecutive games once. It's essentially become a pregame toss-up as to whether the 19-year-old will drop double digits.

However, a bright spot in the first-round pick's transition from UNC to the NBA has been his 3-point shooting.

In his lone season at North Carolina, White shot 35.3 percent from beyond the arc, but since he knocked down 5-7 shots from deep against the Pistons in December, the former Tar Heel has hit 43.1 percent of his 3-pointers. His recent hot streak has been a major boost for a team that ranks 19th in the NBA in 3-point shooting percentage.

Cameron Johnson

Speaking of sharpshooters, Johnson hasn't missed a beat since joining the Phoenix Suns. Of the 37 games he's played in, the forward has made a 3-pointer in 29 games, and has multiple makes in 20 of those games.

Johnson is in the middle of a slump to start the new year, shooting 3-16 from 3-point range in his first seven contests of 2020, but even a rough patch hasn't stopped the former Tar Heel from blowing past his peers.

On average, NBA players have made just over 35 percent of their 3-pointers this season, but Johnson has been draining his at a clip of 39.3 percent in his rookie year.

Johnson's solid shooting has certainly allowed him to serve as a spark plug off the bench on a Suns squad that has dramatically improved from last season. Phoenix won 19 games the previous year, tied for second-fewest in the NBA, but has already secured 16 victories and sits 2.5 games behind the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference.

Nassir Little

Little is the one Tar Heel from this draft class that hasn't seen as much success as his former UNC teammates to start his NBA career.

The explosive forward still seems to be struggling with most of the aspects of his game that gave him trouble during his time in Chapel Hill. Little is shooting just 16.7 percent from 3-point range over 30 games this year after only hitting 26.9 percent of his 3-pointers for North Carolina.

In his lone college season, Little picked up 24 assists, but turned the ball over 48 times. Since joining the Portland Trail Blazers, he's dished out 15 assists and lost the ball 12 times; an improvement, but still not great.

There's also the elephant in the room: Portland simply wins more when Little gives the team short bursts off the bench instead of prolonged appearances. When the forward plays at least 12 minutes, the Trail Blazers are 3-10, but they jump to 14-14 when he sees the floor for less time.

Time will tell if Little can join his former teammates and become a valuable contributor on an NBA roster as his career progresses.

@McMastersJ

@DTHSports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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