Skip to content

Bulls management supports Tom Thibodeau’s big minutes for players like Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah

Apr 25, 2013, 8:45 AM EDT

Tom Thibodeau AP

Tom Thibodeau has a reputation for sensibly assessing analytics, traditional scouting and other factors to create logical basketball gameplans. The Bulls coach also has a reputation for maniacally demanding his players compete until their bodies fall apart.

At first glance, Thibodeau he been nearly infallible in his third season as head coach:

  • Year 1: Win Coach of the Year
  • Year 2: Increase team’s winning percentage
  • Year 3: Make team missing its best player competitive to win a playoff series

But many believe Chicago is missing its best player because Thibodeau overused Derrick Rose and is getting less-than-hoped production from its second-best player because Thibodeau overused Joakim Noah. The accepted logic is Thibodeau’s Achilles’ heel is a desire to win every regulars-season game no matter how much physical stress that puts on his players.

And that very well may be the case.

But, like everything else about his coaching, Thibodeau’s limits for his players are derived from what he – and the Bulls – believe to be sound logic. Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times:

Lost in the accusations about Thibodeau is that he has looked at the science — the science that’s available, at least.

Before becoming the Bulls’ coach, he was an assistant with the Boston Celtics, who were one of the first NBA franchises to
embrace basketball analytics. General manager Gar Forman is quick to point out that the Bulls have an analytics department and that minutes played in correlation with injuries is studied.

‘‘It’s hard to generalize,’’ Forman said. ‘‘Different players’ minutes will affect [things in] different ways, so it’s hard to generalize that assumption in whole. We have studied that. I mean, different body types, different years, how many years you’ve played, the age, all those things are factored in.’’

And from everything the Bulls have come up with, they are fully behind how Thibodeau hands out playing time.

‘‘In our scenario, Tom paces the team throughout the year, and we think he does a good job at that,’’ Forman said.

Like any good analyst, Thibodeau must continually re-evaluate his processes. Injury data can be very difficult to learn from, because no injury is alike, and everyone reacts differently. It could simply be bad luck how much Rose and Noah are suffering.

Thibodeau might think he’s right, and the Bulls might think he’s right (which is important, because it seemed at lease possible his insistence of giving big minutes to his players might cost him his job one day), but at a certain point, is it worth the risk? Maybe Chicago would be better off reducing the playing of time of its top players – just in case. Is the reward really worth the risk, even if the Thibodeau wisely believes he’ll be correct?

Latest Posts
  1. Report: Tristan Thompson won’t accept less than max from Cavaliers, his agent thinks Raptors will offer it next summer

    Aug 31, 2015, 11:43 AM EDT

    Toronto Raptors v Cleveland Cavaliers Getty Images

    Thompson might leverage the max from Cleveland, but it probably shouldn’t be because of this Toronto threat

  2. Canada cuts Olivier Hanlan, finalizes roster FIBA Americas with nine NBA players

    Aug 31, 2015, 10:26 AM EDT

    Andrew Wiggins, Cory Joseph AP

    By dropping an NBA draft pick, Canadians show how far they’ve come

  3. Nigeria beats Angola to win AfroBasket, qualify for Rio Olympics

    Aug 30, 2015, 10:16 PM EDT

    Olympics Day 10 - Basketball Getty Images

    Al-Farouq Aminu is headed back to the Olympics.

  4. Sneaky good summer move: Spurs trade for Ray McCallum

    Aug 30, 2015, 6:30 PM EDT

    Sacramento Kings v Los Angeles Lakers Getty Images

    We’ll all look back at the McCallum trade and say “it’s the Spurs doing Spurs things again.”

  5. Report: Heat want to take long look at young guards before trading Mario Chalmers

    Aug 30, 2015, 3:30 PM EDT

    Mario Chalmers AP

    Can Johnson take on the backup point guard role if Chalmers was moved?

  6. Gov. Scott Walker defends $250 million Milwaukee arena deal as “fiscally responsible”

    Aug 30, 2015, 2:00 PM EDT

    Scott Walker AP

    “You’re talking about being a fiscally responsible person, I am. That’s precisely why I did this.” —Scott Walker

  7. Hornets’ coach says rookie Frank Kaminsky needs to add strength

    Aug 30, 2015, 9:30 AM EDT

    2015 NBA Rookie Photo Shoot Getty Images

    He may start at the four for Charlotte this year.

Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. D. Rose (2609)
  2. K. Irving (2041)
  3. L. James (1711)
  4. A. Davis (1700)
  5. K. Bryant (1641)