How Did We Get Here? | The Hiring of Fred Hoiberg

How Did We Get Here? | The Hiring of Fred Hoiberg
Fred Hoiberg argues a call in the first half against the New York Knicks at the United Center on Friday, Nov. 4, 2016.

The team at Bulls Confidential is asking the question, "How did we get here?" 

It's not all Fred Hoiberg's fault.

In today's NBA, fanbases tend to cast blame towards the coach when things don't go according to plan. Placing that blame may be fair at times, but there are certainly other factors at play. People want results, and they want them now. The constant need for instant outcomes is exhausting, but it's especially tiring when you don't have the proper tools to get the job done. In a big market like Chicago--expectations can be suffocating. The continual need for success, coaching in a big market, and not living up to expectations would put any coach over the edge. In Fred Hoiberg's case, the organization is setting him up to fail.

When "The Mayor" decided to leave his beloved town of Ames, Iowa, it left the small college town searching for a new identity--they've had the same Mayor for the past 22 years. Iowa State loved Fred Hoiberg, and the coach loved them back. It seemed like the perfect job for him. With the Cyclones, he reached the NCAA tournament four-straight seasons, won the Big 12 conference tournament twice, was beloved by all, and had some talent moving forward. After the Bulls decided to part ways with Tom Thibodeau, it was time to look for a new coach. Hoiberg's time at Iowa State was impressive, finishing with a 115-56 record. Even though he couldn't guide his team to their ultimate goal, Fred's program was moving in the right direction.

Bulls' fans, management, and my Mom all knew who the 22nd head coach in the history of the Chicago Bulls franchise was going to be. After a playoff exit the year prior, it was clear that management and Tom Thibodeau were in desperate need of a breakup. Fred Hoiberg was the rebound. At the time, there weren't any fantastic head coaches available for Chicago to go out and acquire. Some of the names that were out there were, Ty Lue, Patrick Ewing, Mike D'Antoni, and PJ Carlesimo. A couple of those names have been around the NBA for a long time, but with former ties to the Bulls' General Manager Gar Forman, and playing four years with the franchise-- the job was Fred's to lose. Forman, believe it or not--was an assistant under former Chicago head coach Tim Floyd.

On June 2nd, 2015--Fred Hoiberg was hired. Management agreed to sign him to a 5 year/$25mil contract, which is pretty hefty for a first-time head coach in the NBA. Initially, he seemed very optimistic about the overall direction of the franchise, and the roster he had inherited. Chicago fans were finally getting their offensive minded head coach who wanted his teams to play fast. With the direction the NBA was headed, that's exactly the kind of coach we wanted to see take over. Hoiberg was proclaimed by some as an offensive guru, and "Hoiball" would soon be taking over the nation. The name of the game was pace and space, constant movement, dribble weave action, and to shoot the open three.

Unfortunately for Hoiberg, the group of guys he inherited weren't as open to this style of offense as he was. The season started off with a miscommunication with star center Joakim Noah, and after that incident--the mayor turned more into a student council president. He quickly lost the trust of some of the veterans on the team. It was tough enough to follow up Tom Thibodeau, someone who had immediate success, and is widely regarded as one of the best coaches in the league. Now he had to deal with some controversy, with Noah's benching and Jimmy not being coached hard enough, the chips were quickly stacked against him. The basketball side of things weren't going so swimmingly either. According to Basketball Reference, last year's team finished with an Offensive Rating of 105.0 (23rd), a Defensive Rating of  106.5 (15th), and were right in the middle of the pack in regards to laying with pace. Hoiberg's system wasn't working. The team went on the miss the postseason, and had way more questions than answers.

Moving onto this season, Hoiberg hasn't been any better. As of Saturday morning the Bulls rank 19th in Offensive Rating, and 24th in pace. Even after a season of having Hoiberg at the helm, it seems that his offensive system isn't working. After being lauded for his abilities to communicate with his players, he has already had three instances where there have been a miscommunication--the earlier being earlier this season when Fred benched Rajon Rondo. His perceived strengths coming into the new gig, seem to be some of his most glaring weaknesses.

There has been growth, whether that be becoming better at holding his players accountable, benching Rondo, or just general x's and o's--Hoiberg has grown as a coach. There is still much to be desired, but he was dealt an awful hand from the get go. Fred Hoiberg's future as a successful NBA head coach is hanging in the balance, but there's no question that his hiring has had something to do with the Bulls recent decent.

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Filed under: Coaching

Tags: bulls, Butler, forman, Hoiberg, Iowa State, Noah


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  • Easy answer (and you can ask David Blatt)--$25 million/year athletes can't be coached, especially by some college coach. Be like LeBron, and make Jimmy the de facto GM and coach. He's already called out Hoiberg.

    Apparently only Steve Kerr has enough gravitas to coach.

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