clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Fred Hoiberg doesn’t know what Fred Hoiberg is doing

New, comments

and other Bulls/Hornets takeaways

NBA: Chicago Bulls at Charlotte Hornets Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

The Bulls broke their five game losing streak Monday night, beating Charlotte 115-109. For one game, they hit a bunch of their threes, and actually had something resembling ball movement and pace. But this team is still three games under .500, and Fred Hoiberg has no idea what he’s doing. Monday was just another example.

No, it doesn’t matter that Rajon Rondo had a good game in his first start in over three months. The Bulls should’ve bought him out two months ago. What matters here is that Hoiberg continues to rotate his lineups without giving his players so much as a hint of what the hell is going on.

After starting 19 of the past 20 games at point guard, Jerian Grant played nine minutes Sunday afternoon, and then followed that by receiving a DNP-CD. Rondo started in his place, and for some reasons unknown Cameron Payne was backup point guard for the night. Sure the Bulls had lost five straight, but can we really chalk that up to Grant’s fault? For someone who’s shooting over 42% from three, providing the only outside shooting for this team post all-start break, benching him for two players who couldn’t hit water if they fell out of a boat seems quite strange.

Let’s hear what Grant has to say about this:

It's super tough. You're labeled as a starter, but when you're only playing 10 to 12 minutes a game, that's not really how it is. The Orlando game, I had a pretty good game. The very next game, you come out within 2 minutes and it's definitely tough to get into a rhythm and give yourself confidence when you're getting pulled like that.

...

We've all been through the same thing here. It started with Rondo, went to MCW and then came to me.

So yes, the frustration from Grant and other players such as Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler on the inconsistent rotations is palpable.

After being placed on the inactive list for the first time in his career, Nikola Mirotic responded by throwing it right back in Hoiberg’s face. Monday night Mirotic came off the bench to score 24 points, including 5-12 from three with 11 boards.

Meanwhile, Monday was also the first time in the last 18 games that Paul Zipser was dressed for (he missed seven straight with an ankle injury), that he received a DNP-CD. As we can see, it’s not just the point guards who are experiencing confusion when it comes to Fred’s decision-making.

Hoiberg has every right to make rotation adjustments as he sees fit. However, doing so as frequently, and dramatically as he’s done can have a significantly negative impact on player’s psyche and player-coach trust. When you have players that don’t know if they are going to start or play on a night-to-night basis, that eventually becomes a huge mental hurdle to overcome. Every missed shot, every bad pass, every missed rotation on defense becomes magnified; players begin looking over their shoulders after every mistake. And that’s not how the game should be, yet this appears to be the way it’s trending for the Bulls under Hoiberg.

Coaches aren’t going to get a perfect roster. Part of being a good coach is finding out what your player’s strengths are, and how you can place them in a position to maximize those strengths and be successful. All you have to do is look down in South Beach to find a prime example of that.

Denzel Valentine Hot From Three

Pre-All Star Break to say Denzel Valentine was struggling, was putting it lightly. After multiple injuries to his ankle to start the year, Valentine was slow to find his footing (no pun intended) and consistency in his rookie year; shooting 31.9% from the field and 30.1% from three. It seems that’s starting to happen since the All Star Break, as his shooting percentages have jumped significantly. In the nine games since, Valentine is shooting 45.5% from the field and 40% from three on five attempts per game.

Monday night Valentine had 11 points on 3-8 from three, with five boards and two assists.

Bobby Portis: Closer?

In the final minutes of Monday night’s game in Charlotte, as the Bulls were getting ready to head back on defense after a pair of free throws, Hoiberg decided to put in Bobby Portis. Because...why? I have no idea. Portis proceeded to give up a layup on the ensuing possession.

I’m not entirely sure what Fred’s seen in Portis to warrant him in closing time over more apt defensive bigs such as Cristiano Felicio and Robin Lopez, or even going small and using Butler at the four.

Ah, the many wonders of Fred Hoiberg.