Bulls forward Pau Gasol had a terrific first season in Chicago. He was an All-Star at age 34 who averaged 18.5 points and 11.8 rebounds.
But the Bulls as a group were often dysfunctional, experiencing highs and lows throughout a season that ended in the Eastern Conference semifinals against the LeBron James-led Cavaliers. Gasol missed two games in that series.
Asked over the weekend about the dysfunction during the season — Tom Thibodeau’s last in Chicago — Gasol said “it’s hard to pinpoint the specific reasons.”
“There was definitely an inconsistency throughout the year,” Gasol said, via the Boston Globe. “We were kind of a very up-and-down team even though we finished third in the conference. We still had a lot of games that we just weren’t ready to play, just too many games we gave away against teams that we were supposed to beat.”
The Bulls fired Thibodeau after the season and replaced him with Fred Hoiberg, whose offense Gasol is excited about exploring. But defense will still be the key.
“I think with Fred we’re going to have more freedom to play in transition and exploit our abilities as individuals and as a team,” he said. “But as long as we understand that defense is what wins championships and what makes the difference, we don’t neglect that side of the game, which is critical, we should be fine. We can work on our offense all we want, but defense is going to make the difference in how we’re going to beat other teams.”
Read more from Gasol’s interview at Saturday’s NBA exhibition game in Johannesburg by clicking here.