Royce White's seven minutes without a made field goal prior to his ejection in his last contest, did very little for White's already meager D-League statistics thus far. In fact, White is averaging just 4.0 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.3 assists in 16.5 minutes for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers.
Despite the slow start, there is reason to remain patient with White's development and perhaps reintroduction back to basketball both mentally and physically. The Rockets have quite a bit invested in the former Iowa State standout, and White will need to start putting up more significant numbers as his playing time will likely increase.
White's first two games in a Vipers uniform provided a nice look at the all-around production that White is capable of. White averaged 6.5 points, 7.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists, and 1.0 steals in 19.0 minutes. However, in his last two games White has averaged just 1.5 points, 2.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 1.0 steals in 13.5 minutes. Even though White's ejection was believed to be unwarranted, White needs to make the most of his time out on the court with the Vipers, as RGV's roster continues to be somewhat crowded.
On Sunday, the Rockets newly acquired Tyler Honeycutt was assigned to their NBA D-League affiliate, joining Royce White in Rio Grande Valley. While the added depth for the Vipers will help the team stay near the top of the D-League standings, it also presents a greater challenge for White in receiving much needed and likely desired minutes. Also, Thomas Robinson and Francisco Garcia ending up in Houston just before the trade deadline, doesn't bode well for White either. Any sort of urgency that the Rockets may have had regarding White, likely took a back seat regarding the additions.
The odds are against White at the moment, but the talent in which White possesses will eventually shine through, as he earns more minutes for head coach Nick Nurse. White's publicly documented strife with the organization in the beginning of the season, kept White off the basketball court when he could of been situating himself in RGV's roster. Instead, White continues to try and find his role with a team full of talent.
White should be considered a long term project for the Rockets, and fans shouldn't be too quick in assessing White's worth based off the beginning stages of his D-League stint. It is going to take time for White to get acclimated in the D-League, and also within head coach Nick Nurse's rotation. The Vipers are the top rebounding team in the NBA D-League, and White's ability to clean up on the glass, along with his passing and scoring skills, will only add to the Vipers' already potent attack.
The challenge of remaining patient, will be something that White himself will need to endure in the second half of the season as well. The time White missed to start the season will be made up eventually, and as long as White sticks with it, and grinds away with the Rockets' D-League affiliate, success will ultimately find White while the Vipers continue to win.