Monday, June 20, 2011
Bulls Review: Tom Thibodeau
By Nick Friedell
Over the past few weeks, we have taken a closer look at each player on the Bulls roster to see where they fit in for the future. Now, let's take a look at a man who became the NBA's coach of the year in his first season.
|Tom Thibodeau earned the NBA Coach of the Year award in his first season as head coach.|
Season recap: Thibodeau had plenty of success in his first year with the Bulls. He led the team to 62 regular-season wins and an Eastern Conference finals berth. He quickly earned the trust and respect of his players by spending countless hours in the gym and watching hour after hour of tape. That dedication to his craft, and the fact that the Bulls became one of the best teams in the league, made Thibodeau a very popular figure within the fan base. The Bulls were widely praised for giving the lifelong assistant a chance to be the man in charge, although, like the fans, Thibodeau's frustration with how his team finished the season was palpable after a Game 5 meltdown against Miami.
Season highlight: May 1. The day Thibodeau was named coach of the year. After waiting so long for the opportunity to run his own team, it was easy to understand why the award meant so much to him. Thibodeau came in with a plan of the things he wanted to do in his first year and he executed most things to near perfection. The key for Thibodeau was that he got Derrick Rose to buy into his system early on, and because of that the rest of the Bulls players had no problem falling in line. If Rose wasn't too big of a star to be cursed out by Thibodeau, they couldn't say anything when Thibodeau said the same things to them.
Season lowlight: Aside from the obvious frustration during the end of the Miami series, Thibodeau's biggest blunder all year may have been the fact that he inserted John Lucas III at the end of a late November game in Denver. Lucas, who was signed earlier in the day, and had come to the arena straight from the airport, proceeded to miss both foul shots, leaving the door open for Carmelo Anthony to hit a game winner at the buzzer.
Final grades: Regular season -- A | Postseason -- B-
Notes: People criticized Thibodeau during the postseason for failing to make adjustments at different times. While there's no questions I think he stuck with guys a little too long here and there, the bigger issue for the Bulls was that they simply didn't have the type of game-changing talent to finish games against Miami. Rose was the only guy Thibodeau had who was in the same class as LeBron James and Dwyane Wade offensively. No matter what kind of adjustments he made, it wouldn't make up for the fact that the Bulls didn't have the type of firepower they needed in that round, especially since Rose seemed to be worn out at the end of May.
Our goals are always the same. We concentrate on exactly what's in front of us; we strive for improvement each and every day. We know perfection is hard to achieve. We know you can't really get there, but you strive to get to being as close to it as possible.
-- Tom Thibodeau
What's next?: Thibodeau isn't going to know what to do with himself once the lockout hits. There's no doubt he will continue to watch copious amounts of film, but it will be a struggle for him to not be able to work/talk to his players. He will survive, though, and whenever the lockout ends he will have the Bulls ready to play.