One of the big concerns with Tom Thibodeau has been getting to the end of the season healthy. He's had a habit of wearing down players through overuse and having his teams limp into the playoffs while overachieving in the regular season.
While it's still early, Tom Thibodeau looks to have found a positive balance with playing time, minutes, and rest.
Rest in blowouts
The Bulls crushed the Knicks in their opening game. Joakim Noah and Derrick Rose didn't come back in for meaningless fourth quarter minutes. A decision he may not have made a few years ago when he tended to keep his star players in regardless of score.
This is crucial in that it's the most obvious way to gain some rest for your players without impacting the win/loss total at all.
No one has hit 40 yet
Luol Deng seemed to hit 40 minutes almost every other game and despite playing an overtime game with five extra minutes, missing Jimmy Butler for two games and Taj/Rose for a game (shortening the rotation) no player has played 40 minutes in a single game yet.
He's playing a deeper rotation
In game one, Tom Thibodeau went 10 men deep even before it turned into a rout. In games two and three he went nine men deep. He said in the preseason that he envisioned a nine man rotation.
With everyone healthy, I think the Bulls will likely shift to a 9.5 man rotation going 10 deep in some games and nine in others and keeping guys healthy.
Already gave the guys a day off
Coming off a back to back, Thibodeau gave the team Sunday off instead of practicing. They haven't played particularly well in the areas Thibodeau is most concerned about (defense and rebounding), but instead of punishing the team, he gave them rest anyway.
In the past, Thibodeau would give days off after good play, but when they were struggling, especially on defense, there was always more practice. The Bulls barely carved out a win over Minnesota and lost to the Cavaliers, but the team was given a rest day anyway.
Some decisions taken out of Thibodeau's hands
We've heard that certain players have minute caps this year, and the decision to sit Derrick Rose was made without consultation with Thibodeau. It appears that the organization is making sure that its voice is heard.
Joakim Noah appeared to blow past his minute limit already in the overtime game, but the fact he sat out the first two minutes before coming in makes me think there was likely a discussion/approval process for him to do so.
It's a long season, but Tom Thibodeau looks like he's either learned from the past or been given a roster good enough where he no longer finds it necessary to overplay his guys.
Hopefully, the trend continues.
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