It was around this time last year when the “controversy” surrounding former Bull Joakim Noah’s new role came to light.
In an interview with ESPN’s Zach Lowe, Hoiberg had said that Noah volunteered to come off the bench, in which Hoiberg lauded him for doing. When confronted with this notion later on, Noah vehemently denied ever doing so. It was then where Hoiberg broke the trust between he and Noah, leaving a fractured locker room for the rest of the season.
With a new group entering this season, the subtraction of Noah but the addition of two more prideful personalities in Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo, it was key that Hoiberg not screw this up again.
More specifically, with this duo along with Jimmy Butler it was and is essential for Hoiberg to get each to understand his role, and how he would manage their minutes. Hoiberg can’t afford to lose this locker room, especially before the regular season even tips off.
And thus far, although the product on the court has been extremely rough, it seems as though Hoiberg has gotten on the same page with one and probably the most influential alpha.
Regarding staggering minutes, Fred Hoiberg said pregame he really likes idea of Dwyane Wade finishing quarters for the #Bulls.— Cody Westerlund (@CodyWesterlund) October 15, 2016
Dwyane Wade said he's likes the mid-quarter breaks and then re-entering in final minutes of quarters.— Cody Westerlund (@CodyWesterlund) October 15, 2016
While he’s not the best player on this team nor the face of the franchise, Wade’s affect is still the greatest. It is absolutely necessary that he and Hoiberg start off on the same page with each other. If not, then we could and to be honest still can since it’s early, have the same problems as last year.
But as of now we can take it as a good sign that it appears the two have an understanding of how Hoiberg will manage Wade’s minutes this year. And even though there hasn’t been much, we can also take it as a sign of growth from Hoiberg as a coach.
Last season on too many occasions the Bulls were left with all bench units that couldn’t produce on both ends. Hoiberg failed to effectively stagger the minutes of Butler and another former Bull in Derrick Rose. With this new roster, and given the lack of shooting in the starting unit, Hoiberg needs to be able to stagger their minutes as a means of getting as much shooting on the floor as possible, while also limiting the minutes of all bench units.
To this point he’s done that. There’s been very few “meaningful” minutes during preseason in which the Bulls put out a lineup without one of Wade or Butler. Hoiberg has done a remarkably good job of staggering those two’s minutes, making sure at least on of them is on the floor at all times.
Yes the product on the floor has been bad, there’s no denying that. And Hoiberg still has quite a ways to go as a coach. But something that we can take a bit of solace in early on has been the fact that Hoiberg and Wade seem to have an understanding of each other, and that will go a long way as the regular season begins.