Thibodeau's five keys updater [preseason games 4-6]


Through three preseason games, I gave an update on Thibodeau's five preseason keys.  Another week and three more preseason games have passed, and it's time to look back and see how the team is progressing on it's goals entering the regular season.

Five things we're going to emphasize right away: Defensive team,
rebounding team, low turnover team, inside out team, and unselfish

1: Defensive team

The Bulls defense has struggled over this three game stretch.   The Raptors ended the night with decent shooting percentages and relatively few turnovers, but the Bulls defense was hot early, and they made up their percentages when the game was out of reach.

Their defense on the Mavericks was statistically good if you ignore the 51 free throw attempts, and as a complete homer, I feel the Bulls did get screwed there.  However, in the end, they allowed too much dribble penetration and that's what allowed Dallas to get to the line so much.   The FG% was fairly misleading in terms of our defensive effort here. 

The Bulls were simply lambasted on defense by the Magic, so utter fail in terms of defense.

They absence of Taj Gibson certainly hurt the front court defense for the two games he sat out, but the overall level of play was lacking.  After a hot start defensively, the Bulls showed many of the wholes they had last year where they struggled to defend the interior.

The Bulls look similar to last season defensively right now where they can make athletic plays, but they're prone to be overpowered and don't have enough help inside.e

2: Rebounding team

The Bulls dominated Toronto on the glass which is no surprise given their complete lack of rebounders.  I suspect Toronto spends a lot of time getting dominated on the glass this season.   They held serve against the Mavericks which is a significant improvement over their first preseason contest against them, and they got crushed by Orlando on the glass.

Again, the Bulls were missing two of their top three rebounders (Boozer/Gibson) against Orlando and Dallas, so the numbers were perhaps misleadingly low.  However, it was a relatively pedestrian set of result on the glass, and the Bulls will have to hope to improve.

3: Low turnover team

I don't feel too bad about the turnovers at this point.   The Bulls averaged around 17 over the three games which is a shade high, but the turnovers were worst in the Toronto game which they blew up the Raptors and clearly got a bit cocky trying to thread the needle on some passes.  

I think given the motion offense relies on a lot of passing and some difficult cross court passes are integral to the offense, I feel the turnovers are at an acceptable level. 

4: Inside out team

Joakim Noah has been a centerpiece of the offense, so I suppose they've gone inside out as much as they can, but without Boozer and Gibson, there hasn't been all that much to work with inside.   I'm calling this a mulligan until the Bulls play with more personnel.  

I don't think they could really go to Noah any more than they have on the preseason as a play maker there, so I think it's been as committed as could reasonably expected thus far, but the team will look much different with Boozer in on offense.

5: Unselfish team

The assist rate dropped to around 61% for the past three games which is a notable decline from their astounding rate earlier in the preseason.  However, it's still about 5% above the league average, so they're still definitely an unselfish team statistically.

On top of that, they still pass the eye test in terms of passing the ball.   There's relatively few possessions where someone is going one on one or pounding the ball with their dribble.   They're typically moving the ball around fairly efficiently across the floor looking for a quality shot.  

I give them high marks for unselfish play thus far.

Overall thoughts

Well, in the end, they blew up the team that stunk.   They played basically to a draw against a similar caliber team at the UC, then they got lambasted by an elite team on an early road back to back travel day after an overtime game the night before (these games are particularly hard when the time zone change gives you an early start and you have to travel). 

I'm not pleased with the effort against Orlando, but I certainly understand it, and in preseason I'm not going to get too concerned over it.   Otherwise, I'm happy with the way they dominated Toronto and generally okay with how they played the Mavericks.    Despite going 1-2 in both stretches, I was a little more pleased with the first three game stretch where our starters seemed to outplay the competition or at least play to a draw. 

This three game stretch featured the first time our starters really got blown up by the opposition in Orlando, even if circumstances conspired to make that one understandable.

At least they didn't lose to the Seahawks this weekend. 


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  • Someone once said that one way to learn how to run a great corporation is to study all those that went bankrupt and learn from their mistakes. Case in point - Orlando Magic, October 16th, 2010. I can only assume Thibodeau has gone through the film with the boys a few times already.

  • Enjoy your thoughts as always doug. Um jus you have another pic of Thibs? Ya know one where he doesn't look surprised and constipated all at once? Lol just asking.

  • Enjoy your thoughts as always doug. Um jus you have another pic of Thibs? Ya know one where he doesn't look surprised and constipated all at once? Lol just asking.

  • I really don't know what to say about these games. In general, scoring a lot of points against Toronto, Dallas is not a big indicator. I agree that the team had pretty much decided to give up against Orlando with all the factors you mentioned.
    We will see how smart Thibs is during the back-to-back of Knicks/Boston. If he reads the pulse of the team in the 3rd quarter of the 1st game and wants to go for a 1-1 record or a 2-0 record. How he manages those games will tell us what is in store for the future?

  • The NBA Defender's Club(or A couple of things about the Bulls right now):

    1) I don't know about anyone else, but that Dallas game when they kept running that Noah and Asik(or whoever the other big out there at the time was distributing the ball) at the top of the key/lane to cutters into the ground after Dallas/Carlisle had figured out a way to stop it just struck me as inept offensive coaching by Thibs. I know, I know, how dare anyone impune the NBA Finals twice asst. head coach?! To me, when you are failing for that long at something, and you keep running it that is just plain poor coaching. Alomost Vinnyesque.

    2) Thibs has gone out of his way to stress that there's a component/portion of the game where you have to run some plays in the post. He also went out of his way to compliment Joakim's righty hook over and over again. So why during that stale ass period when things were just absolutely falling apart didn't he go to that? There is no answer except to say yes he should have. And in the whole preseason I haven't seen Noah setting up in the post like he did last year to shoot a couple of hooks a game. Mistake.

    3) Also in the Dallas game that stagnant period screamed for the guys to go into star takeover mode for everyone to get out to three point line, and let Derrick go to work. And I mean penetrate and change directions with pump fakes and hang time to draw fouls. Not jumping into the air to force up crazy shots and get hammered to the floor the way he often does. And Thibs never went to Doug Collins mode, "Get the ball to Michael(Derrick), and everyone get the fu*k out of the way!" It was just plain a mistake. You have to set up the star role and mentality, and it has to be their for a team even like the Lakers will strugle at times/go to it. Derrick's not just a point guard. If he is we are screwed. What he is is a supertstar scoring stud that elites franchises almost always have to win.

    4)Lastly, the NBA "officials" who without doubt enforce an elitist system defensively, and often only allow entre to players who are pedigreed top picks, and those on top franchise teams like Boston(Perkins, Davis etc.) are buttfu*@ing the Bulls. If Thibs doesn't get on the officials and fight for guys like Taj and Asik who have solid to better lateral quickness and do often get in front of and set before guys get there at the basket and simply set up against star bangers only to get cheap ass fouls called on them. Taj has to decide he's not going to be someone's bitch(either other marquee bigs/elite frnahcise guys/and the refs). And Thibs has to fight tooth and nail for he and Asik, and Noah to at times. Of course the time to fight is when the Bulls are playing well/dominating preferably against lessor teams with pedigreed top pick players/stars/stars in waiting getting bullsh*t calls. Then as you establish the rep/license you go off against the big boys(stars, pedigreed players, and elite frnachises).

    I know Doug and Sam Smith and many other media guys will dispute that such an entrenched really artifical system exists, but Taj got raped last year or else with his confidence nopt squelched would have shot much better and scored much better as plenty of games eveidenced he was capable of. He's no prolific scorer, but you coud you see his psyche torn apart by that targeted corrupt b.s. I just hope the Bulls with Booz back have enough talent offensively and discipline defensively to play up to their potential. If so, they should have enough entre into the bigs boys club if they fight for it to start getting allowed to play defense against the bigs boys. And other then Thibs making some key player usage mistakes/misuses, Derrick has to step up, and take on the stud scorer's role in just about every game especially when the team is struggling. If he doesn't or can't(25ppg min) then they will not win at an elite pace/impressively enough, and defensively they will not gain entre into the officially licensed Stern's/NBA accredited Defenders Club.

  • In reply to MarkNorman:

    This is the preseason. I repeat. This is the pre..season. The issues you have with Thibs coaching are directly related to this fact. Coaching, game planning, and scheming are all done completely different in the preseason as opposed to the regular season. The preseason is a tool for gathering information and forcing players to experience and do things they have never done before, and may never do again. You leave Asik out on Howard to see how he does, not because its the best way to win. Winning in the preseason is virtually meaningless. Sure its nice to evaluate how 2 teams starters perform vs each other, but even in these instances the coach is trying new things, and forcing his players into situations where they are likely to fail. Thibodeau doesn't need to practice his ability to put his players in situations for their best chance to succeed, he needs to put his players in a multitude of predetermined situations that he can use to evaluate which aspects of their game need be supplemented by coaching. When wins and losses are meaningless, the motivation behind play calling, substitutions, and every other aspect of coaching is a completely different beast than when the final score does matter.

    So chill.

  • In reply to jgingeri:

    Watching a failed/solved offensive system ralph over and over again play after play is troublesome pre-season or otherwise. And our bigs getting shafted goes back to last year, and is a major factor this year if we are to win against top flight players and elite teams. The points are valid. Please don't reply to my posts again with trite responses like "chill" and lecture others on what the pre-season means.

  • In reply to MarkNorman:

    Relax. I was trying to ease yours and others worries by shedding light on why Thibs might be coaching contrary to your expectations. I'll refrain from using words as offensive as "chill" next time...

  • In reply to MarkNorman:

    My question is...we just signed Joakim Noah to a fat check because he is such a good defensive bigman/rebounder/heart of our team player an what do we do.....we throw him on Brandon Bass. The worse player Orlando had in the starting lineup. I get that its preseason an we probably wanted to see what Asik could do against Howard but in the regular season....i want to see Noah go against the best because thats why we signed him right? We all knew right from the tip off that Asik was going to get into foul trouble...this is a stars always has been that way. Asik stands no chance against Howard. The refs see this unknown european player against Dwight Howard....what do you think was going to happen? Our perimeter offense is pretty terrible. Im really hoping Luol Deng plays great during the 1st part of the season so we can FINALLY ship him off. Bulls need another stud....Melo would add so much to this team. Deng + Asik + draft picks hopefully can get it done at the deadline.

  • In reply to Csharp:

    I would throw James Johnson in on that trade as well cause he will be a free agent if the Bulls don't pick up his option. It's like beating a dead horse on the Melo trade talk right now cause Denver wants too much and hopefully Melo will only have the Bulls as his destination after the season starts if not before. I know he is from the N.Y. area but he has to use his common sense and know that if he goes to N.Y. with Amare and even if they do land Tony Parker or CP3, they still will not beat Miami and probably not Orlando either nor Boston in a playoff series. His love for N.Y. is sickening cause they don't have a good team and have even worst owners and management.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    I am guessing the Bulls FO strategy is to wait until the trade deadline for Melo if Denver capitulates or some other quality SG comes up on the market. There is no point adding some average guard now unless there is an injury to our existing SGs. Needless to say, the key players are anyone except Noah, Rose and Boozer. Those 3 are not going anywhere and it will depend on how the others are viewed in the NBA market as trade value in Feb. They had a plan for this season and we need to give them a few months with everyone together to see if it works out before we complain. But that said, Thibodeau is the major piece here. It is one thing to trade a player or two or integrate a new player but changing coaches or philosophies is totally different. I hope for that reason Thibs is a keeper who can be the coach for 8-10 years.

  • In reply to Reese1:


    All GREAT teams have a SELFISH (offensive) player. A guy who can take over.

    Thibs may want an UNSELFISH team, but he needs a SELFISH (offensive) player to win.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    1-4 can't take shape until Boozer gets healthy.

  • In reply to Reese1:


    As Michael Jordan once said, "There is no I in team, but there is one in WIN."


  • In reply to Reese1:

    Ya i agree....Deng + Asik + James Johnson an a pick for Melo....but ya, nothing is going to happen until the deadline.

  • In reply to Csharp:

    Noah started at PF, and he was guarding Orlando's... PF.


  • In reply to bullsville:

    Letting Asik get his feet wet vs. Howard, that's the kind of thing that the preseason is made for.

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    In reply to bullsville:

    Well I'm pretty sure Miami's plan to solidify the paint isnt't to go out and get Carmelo Anthony. Neither should the Bulls... although Dampeier might not be a bad idea. More than an additional player,this team needs to stay healthy, put an apb out on all stray gym bags, and get the reg season started already!

  • The problem is with the offense and I know they are still working on things. But, it is Rose/Deng or nothing and when Boozer gets is Rose/Deng and Boozer or nothing. The others are all terrible and it looks Thibs is trying to stop Noah as RW implied from the hook shots. Noah has ways to go before he becomes a good passer. It looks like it is going to be a tough 3/4 months until this unit performs. The perimeter players are just bad shooters except Korver and he needs to be setup. Unfortunately, the next 2 games are against 2 bad defensive teams and we might think everything is fine. I don't know, maybe that's what they need to get into a rhythm instead of playing good defensive teams like Orlando or Boston in the pre-season.

  • Hopefully the Bulls and coach Thibs have something that they are not showing to the league cause they will need some consistent scoring from the perimeter. All of the guards that they signed are not starting shooting guards. As have said before the Bulls will be a good team but not championship caliber. They will have 3 maybe 4 better teams ahead of them and they need to get out of the make up of the Utah Jazz. Hopefully they can pull off some sort of big trade to not be the Utah Jazz of the eastern conference.

  • Ya i was watching the scores an I think the Bobcats were beating the LeBron an Bosh were playing big minutes.

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