The Chicago Bulls media day came and went. There were interesting and cliche quotes throughout, Derrick Rose of course drawing most of the attention. But there was a short, subtle quote from first year head coach Fred Hoiberg, which has been engraved in my mind more than any other from Monday's events.
During his general Q&A with the media, Hoiberg slipped in a mention of playing through Pau Gasol "a lot" on offense. Here's the full transcription from Bulls.com:
He's a guy who can pick and pop, roll to the basket, obviously has a very good post game, back to the basket. If he's open, yeah, shoot them (threes), especially the corner three. In our offense he'll have some time there; I love his stroke. What I saw Pau do in the European championship, especially in those last three games, was unbelievable. So we'll play through Pau a lot, whether it's on the block, getting him the ball in pick and roll type actions.
In years past, this may have not been a terrible option to pursue. However, given the structure of Hoiberg's offensive system, and where Gasol is at in his respective career, attempting to do so would appear to be less than ideal.
We've touched on it numerous times, but once again: Hoiberg's offense is predicated on being up-tempo, structured on constant movement, with strong-side and weak-side action. Playing "through Pau a lot" doesn't quite fit into that scheme.
In looking back at last season under former coach Tom Thibodeau, his offense was often bland, and monotonous. One of the problems that the former Thibs'-led offense ran into was forcing the ball into Gasol in the post. So much of the time we would witness the ball go into Gasol, and as a result witness four players stand around the 3-point line watching as he attempted some form of a post move. The scheme wasted countless seconds on the shot clock, and misused others on the offensive end.
It's fair to say that Hoiberg won't do this verbatim. Having watched breakdowns of his time at Iowa State, while most of the offense was geared towards generating three point attempts, part of the offense was structured to get point forward Georges Niang (among others) quick looks around the basket. Whether it was via back screen or a cross screen underneath the basket, pieces of his offense were formed to garner looks near or at the basket.
Where the quote becomes somewhat worrisome is that it comes across as Hoiberg wanting to play his fast-paced, up-tempo style offense through an aging, 35 year old veteran, coming off extended minutes in FIBA competition. With Derrick Rose, the ascension of Jimmy Butler and the hopeful progression of Tony Snell and Doug McDermott, who seem to be ideal fits in his offense, running it through Gasol would not appear to be apt.
Quick hitters around the short corner or the block for Gasol would be suitable, if that's what Hoiberg is going for. Although initiating or even running a majority of the offense through Gasol, wouldn't be making appropriate use of this team's players. We saw that happen last year.
But this was one quote, which from what it appears, wasn't elaborated on. And I may very well be overacting as well. Nevertheless, it's a quote that makes Hoiberg's first season as Bulls head coach all the more intriguing.