As Derrick Rose’s DNP (Did Not Play) count piles up, Coach Thibodea’s value to the Bulls becomes even more apparent. The NBA Coach of the Year award has never been given to the same coach two years in a row. That streak needs to end. Thibs deserves the award this year even more than he did last year.
Mounting injuries have seen extended bench time for the likes of Rose, Rip Hamilton, C.J. Watson and Loul Deng throughout the shortened season. Coach Thibodea has elevated various bench mob contributors into the starting line up which has then weakened his second line. Ronnie Brewer, Kyle Korver and C.J. Watson are bench mob contributors who have cracked the starting lineup most often. Creative line ups, intense coaching and a deep bench has allowed the team to pile up wins even while relying on people like John Lucas III to become major contributors. A coach less confident in his team and his own coaching ability would be more likely to pressure his MVP back into the lineup. But Tom sees the big pictures of the playoffs on the horizon. He has allowed Rose to rest even with the chance that losses could have mounted quickly. The Bulls kept winning anyway and Rose should be ready for the stretch run and a major playoff push.
The frenetic pace of the 2011-2012 season has made creative coaching a necessity. Some coaches, like Vinny Del Negro, haven’t managed it well and the Clippers have hit a major wall. Despite a handful of recent losses, overall the Bulls have played well without their team leader. In the course of a normal season a coach will typically go 8 or 9 men deep through his rotation. This season twelve Bulls are averaging more than 10 minutes per game. Bench players have been forced to play key minutes and many, like John Lucas III, have stepped up big. Seven Bulls have started 16 or more games this season. Thibodeau has put together various starting lineups allowing the Bulls to match up well and has adjusted the rotation night-by-night according to who is available.
Will Tom Thibodea win Coach of the Year again? It’ll be a close race between him and Spurs coach, Gregg Popovich. He certainly deserves it. Whether he wins the award or not, the Bulls should compete with the Heat for a trip to the NBA Finals. And his worth to the team will be proven by the contract extension which is on the horizon.
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