RUNNING WITH THE BULLS, RIGHT INTO THE GROUND

Will Thibs ever learn?

I thought after the well-rested Spurs won the title last season, with no players averaging over 30 minutes per game during the regular season, that Thibs would take another look at his MPG tendencies.   Yeah, well, good luck with that.

“Hey, I’m going to coach, I’m going to coach my way, and whatever happens, happens,’’ Thibodeau said. “You do whatever you have to do to win, and that’s the way I look at it.’’ http://www.suntimes.com/sports/basketball/bulls/30202575-419/thibodeau-criticized-for-running-bulls-into-ground-remains-defiant.html#.VC4A9l10yP8

Statements like this are the height of idiocy.   Some fans feel that Thibs’ 17-23 lifetime playoff record has nothing to do with his “pedal to the metal” attitude toward the regular season.  Of course, they might also argue that 20 years of McDonald’s 5 times a day had nothing to do with the fat guy’s heart attack…it was the clogged arteries that killed the patient.  Both arguments would be wrong. Sane people realize that the clogged arteries were caused by bad eating habits, and the Bulls’ injury histories are due in part to ridiculous, excessive minutes divied out by Thibs to his defensive stars.

PART 1: Luol Deng

During 2011-12, Luol Deng led the league at 39.4 minutes per game after averaging 39.1.  Thibs overplayed Deng despite few days of rest , when 66 games were squeezed into a few months due to the lockout at the beginning of that season.  Thibs still overplayed Luol despite the fact that he had 3 legitimate options behind Deng:

  1. Kyle Korver (Averaged only 20 & 22 MPG’s in his 2 seasons under Thibs)
  2. Ronnie Brewer (Elite defensive player during his tenure with the Bulls who led the team in steals during his 2 seasons here)
  3. Jimmy Butler (averaged only 8 mpg despite playing well defensively when given the rare chance)

Few coaches will have 3 better bench options to rest their starting small forward than Thibs did in 2011-12.  But Deng still led the league in MPGs.  The more minutes you play during the regular season, the greater the chance to get injured.  In January of 2012, Deng played 40 minutes against a 3-13 Bobcats team at home. He tore a wrist tendon in that game.

“Deng suffered the injury Saturday against Charlotte.” http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-01-26/sports/ct-spt-0127-bits-bulls-chicago–20120127_1_tom-thibodeau-tolerance-pain

No one bothered to find out when the injury occurred.  And yes, it’s true that the injury could have occurred at any time.   Of course, logic would also tell you the odds of getting injured are greater the more minutes you play.  The greater question I have asked myself many times over the years:  Why is Luol Deng, or any important Bulls player, playing 40 minutes or more in a relatively meaningless game in January against a poor opponent, especially with an injury or injury history? With this one issue of MPGs, Thibs continues to take his moronic stance.  He has not yet figured out that sacrificing wins in the regular season is worth it to have a team healthy and ready for the playoffs. Minimizing minutes does not guarantee health come playoff time, but it does increase the odds that your team will be healthy.

It’s no coincidence that Luol shot a career-worst 41.2% from the field during the 2011-12 season, and he missed 12 games, primarily due to the wrist injury suffered in the Charlotte game. Deng had an uneven playoff series against the Sixers, and he couldn’t lead the team to a victory of the Sixers after Rose was injured in Game 1.

“When the Cleveland Cavaliers acquired Luol Deng in a January trade with the Bulls, they received a player who had been run “into the ground” by Chicago, according to a leaked scouting report used by the Atlanta Hawks.” http://espn.go.com/blog/chicago/bulls/post/_/id/20194/scouting-report-bulls-ran-luol-deng-into-the-ground

I wonder if something similar will be said about Jimmy Butler when he’s 28.  We shall see.

COMING SOON

PART 2: NOAH