Category Archives: Season Preview

Hoiberg looks to get back to college roots in year 2 at the helm

Fred Hoiberg’s first campaign as a head coach was headlined by the Bulls’ mediocrity and Jimmy Butler’s sporadic behavior. This all culminated in a move that Chicagoans would never have even consider just a few years ago, the departure of Joakim Noah and more importantly Derrick Rose.

The departure of those two players really put an end to the Thibodeau era Bulls. Hoiberg was brought in to fix the Bulls’ offensive struggles, and he may now have those pieces in order.

The Bulls offense did not live up to its expectations last season. In fact, there was hardly a difference between their production in the final year with Thibodeau at the helm to the new regime of Hoi-ball. In the 2014-2015 season, the team averaged 100.8 PPG and an offensive efficiency rating of 104.7. Last year, the team averaged 101.6 PPG and digressed in terms of offensive efficiency with a rating of 102.1, which ranked 25th in the league.

The high-flying offense that was the Iowa State Cyclones from 2011-2015 was absolutely a product of Hoiberg’s style. Headlined by former Cyclone and current Indiana Pacer Georges Niang, the team mirrors the current Bulls roster. Obviously, the NBA is extremely different in terms of competition and talent, but that doesn’t mean that Hoiberg’s system won’t work.

The obvious comparison between the two rosters is Jimmy Butler and Georges Niang. Niang was a do it all player for ISU that Hoiberg built the team around and he found players that would complement his game well. The same can be said for Butler. He can score, pass, defend, and lead the team.

In addition to the Butler/Niang comparison, the “supporting casts” are also quite similar. Derrick Roses’ departure was no mistake. This is Jimmy Butler’s team, and Hoiberg wanted to find the Monte Morris type point guard that is in the NBA.

Rajon Rondo is arguably the best passing point guard in the league, so it only makes sense that the Bulls went after him. It all relates back to Butler and how the Bulls can bring out all of the skills he has.

We can talk about all of the comparisons to the Iowa State program and how the pieces are starting to fall into place, but there is one drawback that comes with this plan. The Bulls, unlike a lot of NBA franchises, never really like to be in the rebuild/restructure mode. This past season was the first time the Bulls did not make the playoffs since the 2007-2008.

Say what you want about Gar Forman, Jon Paxson, and company and about how they don’t connect with the players and coaches, but they do get results. I wouldn’t say that it is time to hit the panic button if the Bulls do underperform for the second straight season, but it would definitely start to raise some questions.

Again, the Bulls are not the Utah Jazz or the Minnesota Timberwolves. Success is demanded every year, and in a top market the Bulls should be demanding the best free agents on the market every off-season.

However, you can also stop and think that Hoiberg has all the leverage he needs. He is not the first coach in the league today that was hired straight out of a division one school. Brad Stevens was hired by the Celtics after coaching Butler, and we’ve all seen how they have turned out.

Stevens wasn’t the sole engine in the cog that is the Celtic’s organization, but as the head coach he clearly plays a role. It took the Celtics two seasons to get into the playoffs (2013-2014, 2014-2015). So, what does that tell us?

If Hoiberg does have a clear idea of what he’s doing, this team can make noise. The mountain to climb in the Eastern Conference is once again the Cleveland Cavaliers, and the Bulls certainly will have a tough time trekking it.

This is somewhat the dawn of new era for the Bulls. They aren’t starting off with a clean slate by any means, but there are eight new players on the roster right now. That number will most likely shrink, but any past perceptions of the Bulls as tough and gritty team with the kid from Chicago is a thing of a past. I for one am excited to see how it will pan out.

The New #1 won’t do #2

It appears as if Bulls management is looking to steer into the skid.

In a move that would’ve been been met with intrigue back in 2013 when these two were first drafted, the Bulls shipped Tony Snell to the Milwaukee Bucks for Michael Carter-Williams in a 1-for-1 deal that had both fan bases thinking, “Why not?”

The Bucks are looking to replace Khris Middleton (who is expected to miss six months after hamstring surgery) with the clearance sale version of him in Snell. Meanwhile, the Bulls are continuing to show that the most backward thinking front office has not changed its ways.

I feel safe in saying that not many will feel Snell’s absence when the 2016-2017 season kicks off next week, as he was already lacking any significant playing time, but I struggle to see how this move benefits the Bulls in any way. I’m sure both clubs are thinking a change of scenery will do this duo some good, but nothing in their careers has pointed towards any evidence of this.

MCW’s biggest weakness is his three point shooting. He is a career 25% shooter from the outside and will be a nice complement to the starting point guard Rajon Rondo, a career 29% 3-point shooter.

This comes as no surprise to anyone who has followed this team in the offseason as GarPax continue to assemble the worst shooting team in NBA history while the league moves more and more in the space and pop direction.

Not only does it clog up the court when MCW inhabits it, it also clogs up the guard spot on the Bulls roster. The Bulls currently have four point guards in Rondo, MCW, Spencer Dinwiddie, and Jerian Grant. While Grant will more than likely be cut, Dinwiddie showed flashes that made those who watched feel as though he could be a nice backup PG. He also has shown the potential to shoot the ball when in college at Colorado and is a big body that makes him a competent defender.

However, Bulls fans may never know what he has to offer in the regular season as he is not only stuck at PG behind Rondo and MCW but also at SG where he is behind Wade, Valentine, and more than likely Canaan. Say nothing for Snell, but at least the guy could play multiple positions.

All things considered, I don’t think this move greatly impacts the Bulls one way or the other , it’s just further evidence that GarPax are grasping at straws at this point and hoping to pull out a rose (pun sort of intended).