As was reported by Bleacher Report a few days ago, current Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau would only leave Chicago for his “dream job,” which just so happens to be in New York, as the coach of the Knicks.
The Knicks have been through their fair share of front office debacles in the past decade or so. In fact, it’s hard to think of a team that has had more “behind the scene” incidents than the Knickerbockers. From the Isiah disaster to the constant reports of turmoil between James Dolan and [insert any name here], the Knicks have always fueled the media with plenty of content, usually being negative. However, if Thibodeau is willing to move past that, and shows enthusiasm towards working with Phil Jackson and whoever is on the Knicks roster next year, there is no reason he should not be brought in to coach the Knicks.
For the past four years, Thibodeau has coached the Bulls. He led them to an overall record of 205-107 (.657) with playoff appearances all four seasons, including two years in which his team was the top seed in the East. The last two seasons, the Bulls have finished fourth and fifth, respectfully, but that decline is hardly Thibodeau’s fault given what he was dealt. Former MVP Derrick Rose missed all but 10 games in those two seasons, and the Bulls lost key players, such as Kyle Korver (free agency prior to 2013-14 season) and Luol Deng (trade during the 2013-14 season). Despite the losses, Thibodeau managed to keep the winning tradition alive in the Windy City, and he did it while sustaining the high level of defense the Bulls have prided themselves on in the past.
Over Thibodeau’s coaching tenure, the Bulls have finished first, second, sixth, and second again in defensive rating, according to Basketball Reference, a statistic which measures the points scored by opponents per 100 possessions. In addition to those remarkable numbers, the Bulls allowed the fewest points per game in that four year stretch. In Thibodeau’s coaching career, he has never finished outside the top three in opponents points per game.
The Knicks need to build a consistent winner, and as the entire sports world knows, New York is as impatient as any city in the world when it comes to winning. The Knicks have only made the playoffs four times in the last decade, whereas the Bulls made it four times in four years under Thibodeau.
One player that can thrive under Thibodeau is Iman Shumpert, who the Knicks have been waiting to see progression from. Jimmy Butler, the third year pro for the Bulls, is similar to Shumpert in the sense that they are both defensive stars, but still developing their offensive game. Despite major struggles at times on the offensive end by Butler, he still had a season that resulted in finishing ninth on the NBA’s defensive win shares list. Four other Bulls were in the top-20 in that category, which just speaks again to Thibodeau’s defensive mindset.
Thibodeau’s ability to coach up young players and be a consistent winner as a defensive coach makes him an extremely attractive coaching candidate for the Knicks. If he was serious about New York being his “dream job” the Knicks should try to pull him in.
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