Will Tom Thibodeau burn out the players?

The Chicago Bulls won 62 games last season. The most in the NBA. They didn't lose three games in a row all season long.

They also lost in five games in the ECF including four in a row after taking game one. On top of that, series against the Hawks and Pacers proved much more challenging than expected. Many felt the Bulls wouldn't have gotten past the Orlando Magic if the Hawks hadn't upset them.

Tom Thibodeau pushed the Bulls to the edge in the regular season, and the result was the best regular season in the NBA. However, the Bulls were also a team that lacked a second gear in the playoffs, struggled against inferior opponents, and looked crippled against Miami in the fourth quarter.

Joakim Noah joked about Thibs working them to hard in the regular season. He said it was worth it though because of the success they were having. It's the type of joke where everyone says he's kidding, but there's an underlying bit of truth to it as well.

It WAS worth it for the Bulls this year. Without specifically checking, I'd wager no one on the team had a 62+ win season prior to this past year. It did work. They did have success.

However, they also set the bar high. Like Dallas after losing the finals in 2006, nothing short of a championship was going to make the fans (or players) happy. There were no more steps to take before winning a title that could be viewed as improvement anymore.

With Chicago winning the most games in the NBA and bowing out to the Heat in the ECF, they're in a perilously similar situation. Technically, the Bulls could still advance to the finals and lose while still claiming a step forward. It'd be a legit step to beat the Heat as well, but I doubt that scenario would really make anyone happy.

Losing in the Finals may be a step forward, but it's also the most devastating place to lose.

So the Bulls are left with one goal. Win an NBA title. That's true for the rest of Tom Thibodeau's tenure as head coach.

Fans, players, management, coach, we'll all be in agreement over that fact.

Rewind to what Joakim Noah said about it being worth it if they're winning. Will it be worth it if they win 58 games and bow out in the second round?

It's not hard to imagine players turning on a guy like Thibodeau as soon as they see him as someone who's not helping them get better anymore, and there's so little room to get better that it will be a tremendous challenge for Thibs to do so.

It brings me back to two seasons ago when the Celtics started resting everyone in the middle of the season in order to get healthy and energized for the playoffs. Tom Thibodeau fought that decision.

He wanted to play the veteran Celtics into the ground prior to the playoffs to mentally strengthen them and work out their problems. His view wasn't necessarily wrong, but it was in this case. The Celtics needed rest more than victories. They proved it by getting to game seven of the NBA finals and potentially a Kendrick Perkins ACL tear away from winning the whole thing again.

This past season, Thibodeau played the Bulls into the ground in order to secure the league's best record. They were beat up and weary heading into the playoffs.

Would extra rest have helped? Maybe. Maybe not.

It's easy to look back and criticize, but we can't play it out both ways. Quite simply, there may have been nothing the Bulls could have done to get Boozer/Noah completely healthy, and less hard work may have meant an even earlier defeat.

Derrick Rose's fatigue likely had more to do with the lack of any other player on the team that can create their own shot than hard practices and playing too many minutes.

What I do know is that to get continued buy in, the players are going to need to see the fruits of their labor, and at this point, the only fruit left is the NBA Championship.

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  • Thibs is a real hard @$$ who definately runs the risk of burning guys out like Skiles did.

    When you look at the best coaches like Jackson, Pops, Mav's coach, etc you see that they know when to command respect and when to sit back and take in and probably give much more council off the court or at least not in a game like Thibs yelling at players all the time!

    We did set so many lofty records last season and to do that with a bunch of guys not known for the defense but together we were a force as was DRose!!!! I hope Thib's mellows out a bit and takes a seat during game time when there is a season to be played! :-)

  • Thibs appears to have developed a great relationship with Rose. Rose is a very hard worker, who at a young age, understands the benefits of hard work.

    Thibs would be wise to continue pushing as far as Rose will let him push, but no farther.

    Lose Rose=lose team=look for new job.

  • In reply to Nossem:

    In terms of losing the team, I agree.

    However, it's not just about losing the team, but it's about doing what is best for the team. What if Rose is willing to work himself (and everyone else) into an exhaustion that costs them down the road because they are beat up and fatigued in the playoffs?

    Thibs needs to work them hard, but he needs to manage that workload to keep everyone healthy and energetic during the stretch run.

  • 1. I think the scary part in a way was how he drove Rose and Deng to fatigue. It was not because he didn't want to rest them...but he didn't have the vision/smartness of when to rest them. The Bulls definitely lost the last or the previous one due to Deng's exhaustion/foul trouble when LeBron looked like he exercised his fourth quarter demons.
    We saw he rested Deng/Rose when it was very obvious to an 8 year old but not when it was more subtle. This shows he needs to calm down and look at the game from a bigger perspective.

    2. All that said, I think this year will be the true test for Thibs. How he handles failure and Rose/Deng after their experience last year. I wouldn't blame him much about Boozer/Noah because both of them literally sucked on offense most of the time. They better be healthy and helpful on offense to give us a good gauge of Thibs's offensive plans.

  • I always feared this. Especially how he played Deng. Its really a miracle Deng wasnt hurt badly this season. I think Rose's ankle saw this as well. I would love Thibs to try to be a mastermind outside of an we play every game till our dieing breath. Most wins in the seasons mean nothing if we lose round one or ECF.

  • I'd like to know how many successful head coaches spend 20 to 30 years as an assistant before becoming the man? Not Phil, Not Chuck Daily, not Riley, not Pop, not Auerbach, not Larry Brown. I'm sure there are some exceptions out there, but Thibs to me will never be successful as a head coach until he learns to show his players manly respect. He does not show Derrick and Joakim that respect. I doubt he can change who he is, and I think the fact that the Bulls hired Vinny, Skiles, and now Tibs says something. Rick Carlisle laughed when the Bulls wouldn't even talk to him. He'd already coached a team to an NBA Finals no? Something wrong with this picture. Honestly as I've said I don't think the Bulls will win with Thibs. Hopefully he proves me wrong. Not in winning a championship per se, but being respected which is how you get the best out of your players.

  • Despite being critical of some of Thibs moves from time to time, I was thrilled that we hired him and wanted him 3 years ago instead of Del Bimbo.

    That being said, he is one stubborn hard headed mule, only time will tell if he grows as a head coach and adjusts to his team from year to year or even as each season progresses.

    If I am not mistaken, Noah actually complained more about the way that Thibs talked(screamed) at players during practice more than the actual workload itself.

    It was however clear to just about anybody that most if not all of the players were physically shot by the playoffs/Miami series, especially Rose, Deng and Noah, the 3 most important guys. So Thibs has some lessons to learn and adjust ments to make.

  • If he's still too stubborn...i want him gone after the 11-12 season (if there is one)

  • Um... fire the coach of the year? a lot of people credited the Bulls' 62 wins to Thibs, more than Rose and his "MVP" year. so i'd be careful with that.

  • We all try and say good things about Thibs because we see his potential as a coach, and frankly before him and Rose we needed a miracle to happen with Chicago basketball.
    It was so scary the way he how he drove Rose and Deng to fatigue. It was because he did not care about his players, and he put winning and establishing himself ahead of the players health and safety...he is not an athelete and didn't have the vision,smartness, and nor the will to rest them. The Bulls definitely lost to Miami because of Deng's and Rose's exhaustion and sorry coaching. When LeBron looked like he exercised his fourth quarter demons there was no Deng and no Rose to counter his scoring.
    Thibs treated Deng/Rose in an inhuman manner, when it was very obvious to all of the fans but not to Thibs. If Del Negro had done this the headlines would have been huge. This showed Thibs inexperience and insensitivity.
    This coming year will not be a good one for Bulls fans, because the players know he does not consider their health and safely and he only cares about wins during the regular season. A healthy Rose and/or a Healthy Deng might quit on Thibs , realizing that they are human and not animals. A so-called great or good coach should know how and when to use his bench. He would substitute his bench players and give his starters rest for mental and physical reasons. And who would want to be on the Bulls bench, when you know, as a player your career is over cause he won't play you--giving your reputation a bad hit.

  • Dude, inhumane treatment?! Come on! If things were really that bad, the players would have revolted like the Pistons did. Instead, Rose praised Thibs all year. Not every coach is a players coach. Some are reall pricks but get the job done and get the respect of their players. And who did he bury on the bench and end their career? The Bulls had one of the best and deepest benches in the league. Scal and Butler not playing offended you that much?! I think people are over reacting to one season of basketball were a first year coach did what he had to do. He got everything out of these players. If things continue this way for a few years then there is a story, but for now there is no trend.

  • You'd have to be dumb as a stump to have a problem with this coach.

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