One of the many challenges Fred Hoiberg encountered during his first season as Chicago Bulls head coach was managing lineups. Particularly, the strategy to stagger minutes between Jimmy Butler and Derrick Rose. Instead, the Bulls' lineups instead featured heavy doses of all bench units, dubbed "Hoibergo".
Hoiberg's inability to keep one, let alone two, starters on the court at all times put the Bulls in very difficult positions to muster any type of production. Towards the end of the year, Hoiberg did begin staggering the latter, but it failed to make a significant impact as he struggled to manage it consistently.
With a new roster resembling a jigsaw puzzle, how Hoiberg manages lineups during the upcoming season will be of even greater importance than in his first season. Let's take a look at three reasons why that's the case.
The Rajon Rondo, Dwyane Wade & Jimmy Butler Conundrum
Hoiberg is going to roll out a starting lineup consisting of Rajon Rondo, Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler. It's one in which that after those first several minutes should be used seldomly. With those three on the floor at the same time, it's very difficult to imagine any type of efficient offense being ran because of the lack of spacing and adequate shooting.
Staggering their minutes, as a means of getting more shooting on the floor whether it be in the form of rookie Denzel Valentine or Doug McDermott paired with Nikola Mirotic, will better utilize the abilities of the aforementioned "3 Alphas." In addition, by moving at least one of the three early on, it will benefit the incoming bench unit greatly.
As it stands, the Bulls bench does not involve a tremendous amount of experience, outside of presumptive sixth man, Taj Gibson. If the Bulls want to taste any sort of success in Hoiberg season number two, it cannot feature large doses, if any of the Hoibergo lineups. Those, especially this year, don't involve a large amount of quality defense, when considering Doug McDermott and Denzel Valentine are two of your key reserves. Not to mention the lack of playmaking, and quality point guard depth in the second unit.
With three ball dominant playmakers, placing one or even two with the bench unit could pay dividends. Doing so would ensure that there's valuable experience on the floor at all times with the younger guys, as well as a playmaker and someone to direct the offense if need be. Having at least one of the three with a young bench unit should be far more beneficial to their growth throughout the season than having an all bench unit struggle to produce on both ends.
Dwyane Wade's Health
Our own George Eisner offered optimism about what we can expect from Wade health wise this season, coming off his healthiest in recent memory (appeared in 72 games). Still, as one of the biggest question marks surrounding the signing of Wade heading into his 14th season, Hoiberg has to manage his minutes closely.
Over the past four seasons, Wade's minutes per game have decreased in each, topping out at 30.5 last season. For Wade to remain healthy, and effective at that, Hoiberg will need to keep his minutes at or even just below that mark. At this point in his career Wade's knows his body better than anyone, but even so, Hoiberg has to be able manage his minutes for this Bulls team to be successful.
Fred Hoiberg has his work cut out of him next season, that can't be overstated enough. How successful this team is will very well depend on how effectively Hoiberg is able to manage his lineups, specifically in how he's able to stagger the "3 Alphas." If he struggles as much as he did in year one, Chicago could be in store for a very long season, not that they weren't already.