Vinny Del Negro: Stunting The Growth Of Tyrus Thomas, Chicago Bulls

Josh Herman@@JoshHermanPJSCorrespondent IJanuary 9, 2010

BOSTON - MAY 02:  Tyrus Thomas #24 of the Chicago Bulls reacts to the loss against the Boston Celtics in Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at TD Banknorth Garden on May 2, 2009 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Celtics defeated the Bulls 109-99. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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As most of you may know I'm not a big Vinny Del Negro fan, so I'm sure most of you weren't surprised seeing my byline next to this headline.

But after rolling off four straight wins albeit three at home and three against non-playoff teams (if the playoffs were to start today), it seemed as if the Bulls had found a spark to there quickly dampening season.

Whether it was the recent hearsay surrounding the job security of Del Negro, or the return of oft-ridiculed power forward Tyrus Thomas from a broken arm, there was no doubt that the Bulls were playing better basketball.

Most looked at the return of Thomas as no big deal. After all this is the same guy that has been shunned by Chicago-faithful ever since being traded on draft night 2006 along with Viktor Khryapa for budding superstar LaMarcus Aldridge.

But one thing's for certain, when Thomas returned to the court on December 26th, the Bulls started playing better. Not only that, they began to win again, something they failed to do consistently since losing Thomas November 7th in a win against the Cavs.

So is Tyrus Thomas so impactful of a player that his mere presence on the floor can cause a team to do a complete 180?

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No, but the fact that the Bulls this season are 7-4 in games that he has played in compared to the 7-16 record when he rides the pine has to be something to look into.

He may not be a pure scoring power forward like the Carlos Boozer's and Elton Brand's of the world, but the man is an athletic freak, and oh yeah, he's only 23.

What most fans fail to realize is that very few players come into the league and immediately adapt. The players that tend to shine right away are the guys that have been on the basketball-stardom radar since they were in diapers.

And although I'm not an NBA player nor have I had any professional basketball experience, I have a feeling that entering the largest basketball league on the planet while still a teenager has to be semi-overwhelming.

If that's not enough pressure to put on a kid who can't even have a celebratory drink after a game, let's throw him into one of the most pressure-filled cities where fans didn't even want him and where a franchise has suffered from futility since a man known as "The Greatest Ever" left after reaching the pinnacle of professional basketball six times.

And yet Tyurs Thomas was always a bust. A guy who was hard-headed in his ways and who was more worried about making SportsCenter's top-10 than taking his team to the playoffs.

But finally in a winter that has had many Chicago fans turning towards the ice rather than the hardwood, the once maligned Thomas brought his high-energy approach to a team playing flatter than Charlie Weis's seat cushions, and the team responded with four straight victories.

Enter Vinny Del Negligence. His inability to handle a professional basketball team and professional basketball players has become apparent yet again.

While Thomas's energy and athleticism have allowed the Bulls to open the floor back up and play more of a transition style of basketball, Del Negro still feels it necessary to start rookie Taj Gibson over Thomas. Not only is he not starting, he's also finding himself on the bench in the game's most important minutes, the final ones.

Most of this wouldn't seem so profound if not for a couple of findings in an article by K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune.

In the article he cites Thomas as saying that he feels fine and is now trying to once again find his niche on the team after feeling that he had had such a positive impact since his return.

So, after seeing that the team can ultimately be a winner (even dating back to last season) with Thomas on the floor, Del Negro is deciding to stunt the growth of the former fourth overall draft pick who was beginning to show signs of the player Bulls' officials dreamed of when they made the risky move in '06.

Making matters even worse, Gibson, the man filling Thomas's void in the line-up, has stated that he feels more comfortable coming off the bench, while Thomas still insists that he should be a starter in this league.

The answer to this problem seems fairly easy, so what kind of ignorant and naive head coach could not see the solution?

I can tell you one name (actually three), but to be honest, he's not really much of a head coach.

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