10 Expectations for Tom Thibodeau Now That He's Locked Up by the Chicago Bulls
Head coach Tom Thibodeau has finally, finally signed a contract extension with the Chicago Bulls. And now that he’ll be around in the Windy City for a while, there are several expectations for the defensive guru.
Derrick Rose, the face of the Bulls franchise, will begin the 2012-13 season on the bench recovering from an ACL injury that he suffered during last season’s playoffs.
With Rose expected to miss a huge chunk of the season, Thibodeau will certainly have his work cut out for him as he tries to guide the Bulls to yet another phenomenal performance.
Thibodeau has put together two unbelievable seasons in Chicago, leading the team to the league’s best regular season record both years.
Let's take a look at what fans should expect from Thibs—not just this season, but over the next few years.
Develop Jimmy Butler
The Bulls selected Jimmy Butler with the 30th overall pick in the 2011 NBA draft.
The 6’7” forward out of Marquette would fail to receive much playing time as a rookie, producing 2.6 points and 1.3 rebounds per game in only 8.5 minutes of action.
With guys like Kyle Korver and Ronnie Brewer now playing in different cities, Butler is expected to pick up a lot of minutes this season for Thibodeau’s Bulls.
It’s Tom Thibodeau’s job to develop Butler and see that he becomes the productive player he’s supposed to become.
Butler is already a good defender, and under Thibodeau’s tutelage, he can turn into a great defender.
A few years from now, it shouldn’t be a major surprise to see him established as one of the Bulls’ most important role players.
Develop Marquis Teague
Chicago made Marquis Teague the 29th overall pick in this year’s draft after the point guard helped Kentucky win a national championship.
Like Jimmy Butler last season, Teague won’t likely see major minutes during his rookie year; however, he possesses the potential to be quite a player for the Bulls down the road.
The Indianapolis native is ridiculously quick and can get to the basket rather easily. And with a coach like Tom Thibodeau around, Teague can eventually blossom into a first-class defender.
Thibodeau has yet to prove that he can develop young talent, but in the near future, there shouldn’t be any questions asked as Teague emerges as a reliable backup for Derrick Rose.
Lead the Bulls to a Postseason Berth in 2012-13
Derrick Rose, the Bulls’ franchise superstar, will miss a great deal of the season and several key members of the “Bench Mob” were let go in the offseason.
So with that said, are the Bulls bound to have a horrific 2012-13 campaign and miss the playoffs for the first time since 2008?
There’s just no chance that Tom Thibodeau allows the team to miss the postseason, no matter what players are on the roster.
Look for the Bulls to overachieve a bit this season and grab at least the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference.
Continue to Have the Bulls Play Championship-Caliber Defense
One of the main reasons for the Bulls’ success over the last two seasons has been their stifling defense, which is what Tom Thibodeau is all about.
Chicago held opponents to a league-best 88.2 points per game last season and just 91.3 PPG (second-best) the year before.
Despite losing solid defenders such as Omer Asik and Ronnie Brewer in the offseason, Thibodeau’s Bulls should be a stellar defensive team this season as well.
Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson can contribute mightily up front, while guys like Luol Deng and Kirk Hinrich are known for playing lockdown D on the perimeter.
The Bulls will probably not score a bunch of points this season, but they’ll surely deliver on the defensive end of the floor, thanks to the preaching of Coach Thibodeau.
Get the New Bench to Gel
The Bulls’ bench this season will look insanely different then last season’s, as management dismantled the unit during the offseason.
Omer Asik, Kyle Korver, Ronnie Brewer, C.J. Watson and John Lucas III were all let go for cost-cutting purposes.
The new bench members include the likes of Nate Robinson, Marco Belinelli, Nazr Mohammed, Vladimir Radmanovic and rookie Marquis Teague. This group will join holdovers Taj Gibson—a possible Sixth Man of the Year candidate—and second-year forward Jimmy Butler.
Can Tom Thibodeau get the "Bench Mob 2.0” to gel and help the Bulls win some ball games? Yes, but it’s going to be tough, seeing that there are so many new faces.
Take the Bulls to Several Conference Finals Appearances
Tom Thibodeau led the Bulls to the Eastern Conference finals a couple seasons ago, with the team losing to the Miami Heat in five games.
He has the skills to take his team back to the Conference finals multiple times in the coming years as well due to his phenomenal coaching.
As long as Miami’s roster includes the star-studded Big Three of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh and Derrick Rose can stay injury-free, it certainly isn’t out of the question to see a Bulls-Heat series every year.
Guide Bulls to at Least Second Place in the Central Division
The Bulls captured the Central Division crown the past two seasons.
However, with Derrick Rose set to miss the majority of the 2012-13 campaign, winning the division a third consecutive year will be a difficult, really difficult, task for Tom Thibodeau and the gang.
The Indiana Pacers, who gave the Miami Heat a scare in the playoffs, will more than likely win the Central Division this year, but Thibs can indeed guide the Bulls to a second-place finish.
Get the New Players to Buy into His System
There are six newcomers who'll wear Bulls' red this season: Kirk Hinrich, Nate Robinson, Marco Belinelli, Nazr Mohammed, Marquis Teague and Vladimir Radmanovic.
Will this crew ultimately buy into Tom Thibodeau's system?
A player like Hinrich—now in his second stint with the team—has a reputation for playing great D, but the word "defense" really isn't in the vocabulary of guys like Belinelli and Radmanovic.
While Thibodeau won't turn his new players into the next Scottie Pippen or Bruce Bowen, he can get them to improve their play on the defensive side of the ball.
Win Another Coach of the Year Award
Tom Thibodeau impressively took home NBA Coach of the Yeah honors his first season as a head coach (2010-11). It was also his first season in Chicago.
He became just the seventh rookie coach in league history to win the award, joining Harry Gallatin, former Bulls coach Johnny "Red" Kerr, Mike Schuler, Larry Bird, Doc Rivers and Rick Carlisle.
Thibodeau finished second in voting behind the San Antonio Spurs’ Gregg Popovich last season.
Don’t be overly surprised to see Thibodeau pick up the award once again in the not-so-distant future.
He simply has a knack for getting teams to overachieve greatly in the regular season, despite injuries to key players. Chicago finished with the league’s best record in each of the past two seasons, although starters Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Carlos Boozer and Richard Hamilton all missed time.
Guide the Bulls to an NBA Title
There’s no way in the world the Bulls can win it all in this season.
Even if Derrick Rose really does return to the lineup by March, he’ll be too rusty to carry the team to a title in June. Next year could be a totally different story, though; as Rose should be 100 percent and back to MVP form.
With that said, Tom Thibodeau should be capable of guiding the Bulls to a title in either 2014 or 2015. Management obviously believes Thibs can help bring banner No. 7 to town, which is why they decided to extend his contract.
Title contenders the last two seasons, the Bulls failed to win it all in 2011, falling to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference finals. And if it wasn’t for Rose’s injury in last season’s playoff opener, who knows if Thibodeau could’ve taken the team to the Promised Land.
Although he hasn’t delivered so far, Thibodeau—one of the best coaches the league has to offer—can definitely get it done. Just give him some time.
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