This time though, it’s for real. In the Bulls’ preseason finale Friday, Derrick Rose looked like his old self in his return to action after fracturing his orbital. He scored eight points in ten minutes in the win over the Dallas Mavericks, but you can’t see the excitement for Rose this year just by checking the box score after the game.
One of the biggest differences between former Bulls coach, Tom Thibodeau, and current coach, Fred Hoiberg, is the freedom and free-flowing motion of the offense, not only in the half-court set, but in transition. During the Bulls vs. Mavericks preseason game, after a made basket, the Bulls pushed the ball off of the inbound pass, getting Rose in the open court. They didn’t wait for the defense to get set, but instead attacked them whenever possible. During the five years Thibodeau coached the Bulls, they never finished inside the top 20 in pace, but that will most definitely change this season under Hoiberg.
Another huge difference between Thibodeau’s and Hoiberg’s systems is spacing. In previous years, the Bulls always had two post players in with Rose, whether it was Joakim Noah, Carlos Boozer, Taj Gibson, or Pau Gasol, clogging up the paint and taking away any driving lanes for Rose. However, this season, Hoiberg is planing on bringing former Defensive Player of the Year and MVP finalist, Joaking Noah off the bench and starting second–year player from Montenegro, Nikola Mirotic. Mirotic can stretch the floor and shoot form anywhere on the court, opening up the lane for Rose to do what he does best: get to the basket. When asked about Hoiberg’s offense, Rose said:
“There are a lot more (driving) lanes,” enthused Rose. “It’s so many opportunities to drive or so many opportunities to shoot my mid range even in transition; it’s open. I’ve just got to get used to playing this way. I know that might sound crazy, but playing in a (deliberate) system for three or four years kind of got me out of my rhythm.”
If Rose can stay healthy—which is a monstrous “if”— he can return to an elite level. He may not compete for an MVP, but an All-Star appearance is definitely in the picture. With Fred Hoiberg’s new system and a healthy, explosive Rose, the Bulls are destined for another deep playoff run.