With Phil Jackson retired there is honestly only one active coach in the NBA that I would rather have coaching the Chicago Bulls other than Tom Thibodeau, the San Antonio Spurs’ Greg Popovich. I had to debate for a good while as to whether or not I would rather have the Los Angeles Clippers’ Doc Rivers instead of Thibodeau. In the end coach “Thibs” was the one left standing.
Since joining the Chicago Bulls in 2010 Thibodeau has won over 65% of the games he has coached. He also led the Bulls to the best record in the league his first two seasons.
Injuries to key players have extremely hindered his team’s performances the last two seasons. However, despite these unfortunate circumstances Thibodeau has still been rather successful. Let’s not forget that last year’s Bulls’ team won a first round playoff series without Derrick Rose, Luol Deng and Kirk Hinrich.
If beating the Brooklyn Nets in seven games last season was not enough evidence of Thibodeau’s greatness, the fact that he has kept this year’s team afloat is. Despite Derrick Rose going down for the second straight season as well as the trading of Luol Deng for nothing but conditional draft picks, this season’s Bulls team is currently the 5th seed in the Eastern Conference.
Granted a lot of the Bulls’ recent success has to do with the pitiful state of the Eastern Conference but the fact remains they are still playing respectable basketball.
Thibodeau’s success has a lot to do with his simple philosophy of having his teams play outstanding defense. Personally I believe that it is naturally easier for a player to be a better defensive than an offensive player. In order to be successful defensively all a player has to do is give maximum effort and have some athleticism. On offensive some natural ability is required and some players like Joakim Noah simply do not have it/
Thibodeau recognizes the potential that his team has for defensive greatness and then maximizes that potential by constantly riding his players and sometimes even benching them if he believes they are not giving a maximum effort.
As simple as it may sound having a team that plays outstanding defense is all about obtaining the mindset to want to play great defense. Thibodeau’s success has had a lot to do with the fact that he has had great defensive players on his team such as, Joakim Noah, Luol Deng, Taj Gibson, Jimmy Butler, and Kirk Hinrich to name a few. Thibodeau undoubtedly understands that his coaching success has a lot to do with the hard work on the defensive side of the ball that his players are willing to put forth.
When Luol Deng was traded it did not take Thibodeau long to voice his displeasure because he realized just how rare and hardworking a player like Deng truly is.
Since voicing his displeasure rumors have circulated that Thibodeau may be interested in moving on from the Chicago Bulls to the team he grew up rooting for the New York Knicks. Personally I believe these rumors are rubbish for now. Thibodeau is smart enough to realize that the team he has here in Chicago gives him a much better chance to win than the one he would have in New York.
However, if the Bulls keep making transactions that are more future oriented such as the Luol Deng trade, I see no reason why Thibodeau would not move on to a team that is more focused on winning right now.