The San Antonio Spurs have become the arbiters of style in the modern NBA. And it’s a style that is decidedly attuned to the notion that form follows function. They’ve spawned all sorts of imitators around the league, most notably the Atlanta Hawks. They even coined a term for the league’s new emphasis on ball movement and three-point shooting: ‘Spurs ball.’
But franchises around the league are also taking note of some less-heralded practices coming out of San Antonio in recent years, namely minutes management. Gregg Popovich’s sometimes irritating – but ultimately effective – strategy of micromanaging his superstars’ playing time is a big reason why the Spurs continue to be competitive even as their Big 3 inch ever closer to retirement.
It’s something the Chicago Bulls have been wanting to do for some time now, and it was a big point of contention with former coach Tom Thibodeau last season and one of the main reasons he’s no longer there. New coach Fred Hoiberg was brought in at least partially to do precisely that, and it didn’t take long for him to indicate he’s fully on board with this new direction, especially following a rather curious comment he made last month about Derrick Rose not needing rest this season.
That, along with a new free-flowing offense, should help drag the Bulls firmly into the 21st century. And considering the injuries to both Rose and Joakim Noah the past few seasons, it certainly couldn’t hurt their overall durability. Hoiberg’s even gone so far as to indicate he might consider bringing Noah off the bench this season. The Bulls’ frontcourt offered the best rim protection in the entire NBA last season, per NBA.com, but an offensive weapon like Nikola Mirotic might be just what they need to get over the hump. Either way, it’ll be interesting to see how the rookie head coach manages all these moving parts once the season gets underway.