As the Bulls' first preseason game approaches (10/6: Milwaukee Bucks, 7PM CST), Fred Hoiberg has made some preliminary assessments of what he's seen during team practices. Alongside the expected fluff, Hoiberg expressed some concerns over the team learning his system.
We’re turning it over way too much... That’s a big thing. You’ve got to value the possession. And we’re giving up too many offensive rebounds, which is good and bad. It means you’re getting rebounds, but you’re giving them up on the other end. Those things generally happen. Everywhere I’ve been early on, in practice you’re always turning the ball over too much. That’s been the big thing – turning it over.
Despite developing a reputation as a strong defensive rebounding team, the Bulls fell to below league average in Thibodeau's last season. It appears that Hoiberg has yet to find a solution to what was a frustrating theme last year.
As far as turnovers, part of Hoiberg's concern can be attributed to the conundrum at backup point-guard. Aaron Brooks and Kirk Hinrich continue to fill in while Derrick Rose heals from a left orbital fracture. However, turnovers were also a big problem for Rose last year, as the previous two season have seen him post the highest turnover rates of his career.
The good news is that Hoiberg's teams, despite playing at a helter skelter pace, have done a great job at protecting the ball. His Iowa State Cyclones ranked in the top decile in turnover percentage (30 out of 341):
Hoiberg attributes the early turnovers to the team learning which decisions are correct in his offense, and expects the problem to remedy itself as the season progresses:
I think it’s just sloppy really is a lot of it... Then the other thing is we’re turning down some good looks sometimes, which in this league you’ve got to take them. When you get them, you’ve got to take those good shots when you have them. But again, it’s an extra dribble when you don’t need it when that defense converges. Again, just sloppiness in the break. We’ll get better at that. Timing, we’ll get better at that as we go.
Bulls fans will finally get a glimpse of the team running Hoiberg's offense tomorrow against Milwaukee in a rematch of last year's first round playoff matchup. Against a Milwaukee team that was elite at forcing turnovers, Bulls fans should take a patient approach, and expect early mistakes with the ball while the team gets its bearings.