4 Reasons Why Firing Tom Thibodeau Was the Right Decision for the Chicago Bulls
Since taking over the Chicago Bulls in 2010-11, Tom Thibodeau has had plenty of success.
The team's winning percentage (64.7 percent) in the past five seasons ranks fourth in the league, and the Bulls made the postseason five years in a row.
But the Bulls have decided to fire Thibodeau as head coach and usher in a new era for Bulls basketball.
Yes, the Bulls let go of a coach that led them to five consecutive playoff appearances (though, in fairness to the organization, they're 10 for the last 11 overall), but for many reasons, the decision was the right one.
1. Playoff Success
Despite all of the playoff appearances, Thibodeau never was able to take the Bulls to the NBA Finals. Of course, only part of that can fall on the coach -- he wasn't coaching LeBron James -- but the fact remains.
Of course, the Bulls haven't landed on the lucky side of the injury coin in recent seasons, but Chicago has only one Eastern Conference Finals appearance (in Thibodeau's first season) to show from its five-year stint as the conference's second-best squad in terms of win percentage (behind the Miami Heat).
With a 23-28 record in the postseason, Thibodeau's Bulls have been a consistent disappointment in the playoffs.
2. Offensive Woes
Part of Chicago's playoff shortcomings have resulted from their offensive efficiency. Check out their Offensive Rating in the playoffs with Thibodeau.
|Playoff Year||O Rtg||Rank||D Rtg||Rank|
In each year, the Bulls posted a below-average Offensive Rating (points per 100 possessions) in the playoffs. Even in 2010-11 when they ranked sixth, their Offensive Rating (105.8) ranked below the playoff average (106.0). I realize these numbers -- especially when comparing them to teams who played four games or so -- only tell us so much, but the Bulls never performed well enough on offense to complement their defense.
Chicago's Offensive Rating of 105.8 during the past five seasons ranked 17th in the league, but their Effective Field Goal Percentage in that span (48.4 percent) ranked 22nd.
Things changed this year, and the Bulls actually finished the regular season with an Offensive Rating of 107.5, 11th-best in the NBA, but that might actually be the key reason why Thibs and the Bulls are no longer a pair.
This season, Jimmy Butler elevated his offensive game substantially -- well, he maintained his averages with a bigger workload -- and Pau Gasol, whose 24.5 Offensive Win Shares since 2010-11 are 18th most in the league, came to Chicago.
Nikola Mirotic, who made the NBA All-Rookie First Team because of his efficient offense, averaged just 14.9 minutes in the playoffs, never topped 22 minutes in a game, and failed to hit double-digit minutes in three of the 11 games in which he played.
Further, Derrick Rose owns a career Defensive Rating of 107 and is in the midst of reinventing his offensive game. Thibodeau's defensive-minded philosophy would have assuredly hindered the development of such a core.
General manager Gar Forman flat out made this known. Forman, according to the Chicago Tribune, remarked, "As we looked ahead and evaluated how we as a team and an organization could continue to grow and improve, we believed a change in approach was needed.
4. Team Friction
To make matters worse, Thibs' heavy-usage of his players -- injured or not -- has been a bit of an obvious source of tension, particularly of late.
Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf was pretty overt with that sentiment. "When everyone is on the same page, trust develops and teams can grow and succeed together. Unfortunately, there has been a departure from this culture. To ensure that the Chicago Bulls can continue to grow and succeed, we have decided that a change in the head coaching position is required," Reinsdorf said in a statement.
There's really no quantitative analysis for this last reason, but when a team's front office is as quick to speak out against the man who helped lead their team to the fourth-best record during the past five years as the Bulls' has been -- in addition to the statistical struggles for the team -- it's clearly a sign that this was the right choice for both sides involved.