In his years on the sidelines – both as a head coach and an assistant – Tom Thibodeau has become known around the league as one of the best defensive minds in the game. The Chicago Bulls have consistently ranked at the top of the league on the defensive side of the ball since Thibs has taken over.
But offensively, the Bulls have been average and, at times, have had difficulty scoring – especially without D. Rose.
But with his MVP back in the mix, Thibs is taking a different offensive approach that utilizes not just the speed, athleticism and passing ability of his superstar, but the entire team.
“I think the important thing is to be well-balanced. Obviously, you want to get as many easy baskets as you can. So how do you get them? And the obvious [answer] is the fast break,” Thibodeau told ESPN Chicago. “I think the quicker you move the ball, the quicker you make decisions, get your body in motion, that also leads to second shots. We've always been a high-assist team, it's a five-man offense, five-man defense and that's the way we want to play. So if we can beat the defense down the floor we want to attack before they get set.”
As we’ve seen in the first two games of the preseason, Derrick Rose can still push the ball up the floor very quickly. But we’ve also seen Rose run and fill either lane with Luol Deng and Jimmy Butler – at times – being the primary ball handlers on the break.
“Whoever gets it, if Jimmy or Lu gets it, my job is to run the lane, get wide," Rose said. "It depends on how the play is going to be ran. Sometimes it's even spotting up for the open jumper, so we're just trying to get used to each other and get used to this new offense of pushing the ball."
But what about in the half court? You can’t have a fast break on every possession, right?
Well, this season, Thibodeau is preaching ball movement and wants his players to zip the ball from side-to-side, keeping defenses off balance and taking advantage of easy scoring opportunities when they are, a la the San Antonio Spurs.
“If they get set we want to move them side to side. But we want the ball in to the paint,” explained Thibodeau. “When you have a player like Derrick who can force the defense to collapse, now you're going to get some high scoring or very efficient shooting out of that. Everyone has the responsibility to hit the open man, keep the ball moving.”
“We run a lot of "C" sets where it's almost like a San Antonio set where you're just reading how the team is defending you and we're reacting to it,” said Rose. “For us it's something that we have to learn because Thibs really wants us to put it into our offense, but it's going to take a little time."