Maybe the Tom Thibodeau offense wasn’t as bad as many painted it to be
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Ten games into the regular season, judging “Hoiball’’ just wouldn’t be fair.
After all, Fred Hoiberg has had a blurry-eyed point guard in Derrick Rose to deal with, as well as a team that has not fully jumped head-first into the playbook, with the first-year Bulls coach admittedly forced to slow down the install process.
Then again, when does fair exactly factor into how Bulls coaches are judged?
The criticism aimed at former coach Tom Thibodeau was by no means fair, whether it was the minutes he would hand out to players or his offensive Xs and Os downplayed, the narrative was a negative one from the organization by the time he was dismissed last spring.
So what is fair to judge?
Well, there is a 10-game sample size with basically the same players on the court over the past two seasons. Surprisingly, what it showed is the “Hoiball’’ offense is yet to catch on with this group, or at least is a serious work in progress.
Get the hardhats on.
Like this season, the Thibodeau 2014-15 Bulls began the season 7-3. There are some eye-opening differences after that, however.
Hoiberg’s Bulls were averaging 100.9 points per game, while shooting 43 percent from the field. The ‘14-15 Thibodeau Bulls averaged 102.2 points per game through the first 10 games, shooting 46.7 percent from the field.
Defensively, Hoiberg’s Bulls were allowing 99 points per game, while holding the opposition to a 40.8 field goal percentage. Thibodeau’s version allowed 97.9 points per game, but a 42.8 field goal percentage.
Point differential also favored the Thibodeau Bulls, with a plus-4.3 per game compared to a plus-1.9.
Not yet. Not with a sample size this small. More importantly, with a group of players that are often second-guessing themselves.
“We have guys just over-thinking things sometimes,’’ forward Taj Gibson said. “This offense gives you some freedom, and we need to just trust coach and play for each other. It’s a pretty free offense, and we have to make the right plays instead of the play where we pass too much or are too unselfish.’’
Over-thinking shot selection hasn’t been the only problem. This is also a group that is still trying to figure out roles, as Hoiberg looks for the right mix in starting a game, coming off the bench, and maybe most importantly, finishing games.
In the Monday night win over Indiana, Hoiberg didn’t have Rose – who was nursing a sprained left ankle – so closed out with Jimmy Butler, Gibson and Tony Snell, while subbing offense for defense with Kirk Hinrich and E’Twaun Moore, as well as Joakim Noah and Pau Gasol.
Not exactly what veteran players want at the end of the game, but according to Gibson, a fact of life under Hoiberg that they are willing to accept for now.
“Our team is real unselfish,’’ Gibson said. “We don’t really complain. We just want to see everyone succeed, but we understand that there’s a bigger goal at hand. That’s how I feel. I don’t really worry about all the other antics.’’
In other words, Hoiberg’s offense is still in diapers and these are the growing pains.
Then there’s Rose, who always seems to have a different take on most things.
“I’m not worried about offense,’’ Rose said. “It’s just defense. We have slips when we come down and it’s like two or three possessions in a row. In this league when you’re dealing with professionals you can’t do that.
‘Probably on the college level, but up here they make you pay for it.’’