Derrick White isn’t the same little-known backup guard the Celtics acquired two years ago before Boston’s failed run in the 2022 NBA Finals.

Having earned league-wide recognition as one of the best two-way guards, earning a full-time starting position this season with the Celtics. White’s now been named to the NBA’s All-Defensive Second Time, twice, and finished off a fringe All-Star-caliber campaign averaging 15.2 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 5.2 assists, shooting 46.1% — all while leading NBA guards in blocks (1.2).

“I think I’m just much more calm,” White said, as seen on ESPN’s pregame coverage on Thursday night. “The first time was super crazy, and I was just looking around in awe. This time I’m just much more calm, trying to be present and enjoy the moment.”

White added: “Whatever the team needs me to do, I’m gonna go out there and give it my all. We just gotta compete at a high level and make the right reads. It’s gonna be a lot of fun, and I’m looking forward to playing again.”

Story continues below advertisement

Boston’s versatility is one of the team’s greatest strengths, and White has been a Swiss Army knife. In Game 4 of the first round against the Heat, White dropped a career-high 38 points, hitting 8-of-15 3-pointers. When the Celtics finished off the Pacers in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals, White was a terror on the defensive side, logging five steals and three blocks.

    What do you think?  Leave a comment.

White’s soaring confidence, which didn’t make an appearance two years ago in the Finals, has been a difference-maker on countless occasions since blossoming in a Celtics uniform.

The 29-year-old has averaged 17.8 points, 4.1 rebounds, 4.1 assists, and 1.3 blocks this postseason, back with a chance at redemption, this time against the Mavericks, in the Finals. White’s learned plenty from the first go-around on the biggest stage against the Warriors, and anticipates a similar environment with the new and improved Celtics roster.

Story continues below advertisement

“It’s gonna be a rollercoaster,” White explained, per ESPN. “It’s gonna be good. It’s gonna be bad, but you can’t expect it to be perfect. You get (to) your first Finals, you think it’s gonna be everything you’ve dreamed about and it wasn’t. So whatever it takes, whatever the game needs, you gotta do it and I’m looking forward to it.”

Featured image via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images