The result of the interview? A lot of the usual platitudes you’d expect from an NBA head coach who doesn’t want to upset the balance of his seemingly good relationship with his superiors. Also, Hoiberg gives a lot of love in the interview, praising everybody from the Bulls new big three to Nikola Mirotic and Rajon Rondo to that Jimmy Butler dude.
In regards to the Bulls difficult-to-watch 27-win season that will only result in the No. 7 pick in the NBA draft on Thursday, Hoiberg spun it all in a positive direction.
Obviously you’re disappointed. You were hoping to move up. But we’re confident we’re going to get a good player with the No. 7 pick and we’re confident we’ll get a good player with the 22nd pick.
… You play hard, you get the culture established the way you want it and things take care of themselves.
What really would have been devastating would have been ending the season with negativity, with your team not playing hard, with your team disinterested. That’s something that would be a real cause for concern going into an offseason. But our guys felt good about themselves. Some were sacrificing in a big way and pulling for younger guys. They were playing hard, they were cheering for each other.
When asked directly about it, Hoiberg insisted that he never received pressure from management to lose despite evidence to the contrary. And the team morale was just recently put into question by Paul Zipser, and it’s not hard to imagine that the team wasn’t really that emotionally invested in 27-year-old Sean Kilpatrick getting heavy minutes.
The message from last season remains airtight no matter who you talk to within the organization: it sucked losing that much, but the Bulls feel they remained competitive and meaningfuly developed a lot of their young players (Hoiberg said he believed Cameron Payne, Bobby Portis, and Denzel Valentine all had career years), so the season was a win. Though Hoiberg said the opposite near the end of the season when it came to evaluating those same young players.
As for ‘Hoiball’, it’s still a work in progress (to say the least...tied for 28th in offensive rating last season) that looks at least anecdotally improved as the complexion of the roster has begun to jive more closely with what Hoiberg wants to do offensively.
NBA.com: When you’re not coaching veterans, is it a purer form, as far as installing “your” system vs. tailoring things to them?
FH: You always look for the best system, the best approach. The basics don’t change, but [in 2016-17] we had a lot more isolation players, so we ran more of those types of actions. This [past] year, more ball movement, player movement fit this group better. We had longer, harder practices as opposed to a veteran group as the year went on.
It was a bit of an oversight by Aschburner to not ask Hoiberg for his thoughts on the draft on Thursday. Then again, maybe he did ask and Hoiberg went on a 5,000 word rant about how much he loves Mikal Bridges and Aschburner’s editor decided to cut that part out....