Looking at Fred Hoiberg’s Offense


It’s not surprising that a 10-year NBA veteran taught a NBA-style offense to his players in the college game. New Chicago Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg runs an uptempo, always-moving type of offense that could really bring the Bulls roster to its full potential.

One of the most intriguing aspects that led to Fred Hoiberg getting the head coach position with the Chicago Bulls (other than having a close friendship with the general manager), is his ability to teach on the offensive side of the floor.

More from Bulls News

Despite never reaching college basketball’s biggest stage in his five seasons with Iowa State, teams feared playing the talent-filled Cyclones teams coached by Hoiberg, due to the 42-year-old’s endless offensive playbook.

A key in Hoiberg’s offense is having players that can bring multiple aspects to the table.

During the five years spent in Ames, Hoiberg had players such as DeAndre Kane and Georges Niang; both who were “Mr. Do-it-alls” in the ISU offense, and last year’s sensation at point guard: Monte Morris.

Morris was a lead guard who could play distributor and penetrate the paint efficiently (think of pre-injury Derrick Rose, in terms of great PG that lacked a consistent jumper).

Now that Hoiberg has jumped to the pro game, his wide-open, uptempo offense can be seen by a much bigger audience, along with some of the league’s premier players executing an offense that can be almost impossible to stop at times.

Here’s a look at what the Bulls can look like with Hoiberg on the sidelines moving forward:

BBALLBREAKDOWN’s Coach Nick produced a nine-minute video on some of the different half-court sets Hoiberg’s teams at ISU ran, along with providing some analysis on who can play what role for the Bulls in 2015-16.

This is a basic set in Hoiberg’s offense called, “QUICK”. Basically, this set is for the two guards (presumably, Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler) finding an open shot or a driving lane off a “wing weave”. The ball screen set by Niang in this set is designed to pull the guard’s defender off the ball handler (Rose here) and give him a chance to pull up, pass, or drive. (Photo Credit: BBALLBREAKDOWN’s YouTube channel)

“QUICK” is as the name says; the simple set designed to get something quick. The emphasis in the play comes from the “wing weave” you might see on either side of the floor. The “dribble pitch action” (as Coach Nick says) is designed to spring the ball-handling guard for an open look for a shot, drive, or a pass to the off-guard for a good look due to his defender keeping an eye on the ball-handling guard.

Here’s where “QUICK” gets interesting: Let’s say Nikola Mirotic is the third man in the “wing weave”. Mirotic’s shooting ability helps provide space for the guards (once again, Rose and Butler). In this version, Niang sets a screen for the ball handler, then slips towards the basket for an easy opportunity early in the shot clock. (Photo Credit: BBALLBREAKDOWN’s YouTube channel)

“QUICK” can be interesting when a guy like Nikola Mirotic is on the floor for the Bulls with Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler. Mirotic is a hassle because he’s a lengthy player that has quick feet to get to the basket, and can step outside and hit shots.

With this set, Mirotic sets the screen for the ball handler and cuts towards the basket, giving the offense an easy opportunity for points early in the shot clock.

Even Joakim Noah can get into the fun with Hoiberg’s offense. In this “QUICK” set, Noah slips to the right elbow for a screen that can open a shot for a guy like Mike Dunleavy, Jimmy Butler, etc. There’s not much to the “QUICK” sets. It’s basic, but when ran properly, all of them can be efficient. (Photo Credit: BBALLBREAKDOWN’s YouTube channel)

You’ve probably seen something similar in this version of a Hoiberg “QUICK” set.

Niang (screaming Joakim Noah seen above) slips from the “wing weave” and sets a screen at the elbow, opening up a shot for one of the perimeter options on the floor. With the Bulls, picture Butler or Mike Dunleavy running off the screen to get an open three-point look; something that’s vital and commonplace in Hoiberg’s offense.

A play that could be devastating for Bulls opponents in the future is a version of the “THRU” set. In this set, Derrick Rose would play the guard the play is designed for. With this version, the Cyclones cleared out the left side of the floor for the point guard to either isolate his defender or beat him backdoor on a cut to the hoop. Rose has the ability to do either efficiently. (Photo Credit: BBALLBREAKDOWN’s YouTube channel)

Contrary to some beliefs, Derrick Rose can prosper in this offense if he can remain healthy for a longer period of time.

Hoiberg runs a few different versions of the “THRU” set that can be seen in the video, and this version is definitely one of the more exciting versions because of Rose’s superstar abilities.

With “THRU CHASE”, Rose (played by Morris) can either isolate his defender on the wing, or lull him to sleep and beat him backdoor (like you see above).

This set is really, really exciting because it’s a tough (and surprising) set to defenses. See the shooter getting ready to catch a pass off the elevator screens? How many times did Bulls fans see that with Nikola Mirotic this past year. With “THRU PUSH FENCE”, the shooter sets a weakside ball screen, strolls through and gets the elevator screens off the pass. He has two options here off the pass: Either shoot the three, or dribble to the “nail” (the free-throw line) for a shot. (Photo Credit: BBALLBREAKDOWN’s YouTube channel)

The Bulls ran a version of “THRU” during this past season in Thibodeau’s scheme, with the play being designed mostly on the left side of the floor for Mirotic to take an open three-pointer.

With next year’s version of “THRU”, the Bulls have a plethora of guys that can be the focal point of this play.

The play begins with a weakside screen set by the man who will eventually take the shot. But, before the weakside screener can take the shot, he’ll receive some elevator screens from the 4/5 men on the floor.

Butler, Dunleavy, or even Mirotic could end up being the focus here. Not only can the shooter take an open three, he still has the opportunity to drive inside the arc for a look as well.

One of my favorite sets in the video was “THRU SMASH”. This set was designed for DeAndre Kane (circled in the photo). In this set, Kane (who will be played by Derrick Rose this season), gets a pindown screen, then takes the dribble handoff to the top of the key, which is followed by a hard take to the basket off a curl for the finish. This set is perfect for Rose’s style of play. (Photo Credit: BBALLBREAKDOWN’s YouTube channel)

One of my personal favorites from Coach Nick’s video was Hoiberg’s “THRU SMASH” set with DeAndre Kane finishing with the right hand at the basket.

In this version, Kane gets a pindown screen on the left side of the floor, and receives a dribble hand0ff at the top of the key. It’s basically all one curling motion for Kane, as he gets the one-on-one he wants with the screener’s defender and explodes to the basket for the easy deuce.

Kane was one of the Hoiberg’s best playmakers during his time in Ames, and with a healthy Rose next season, you can expect to see this set quite often throughout the year.

You can see more sets from Hoiberg at ISU in BBALLBREAKDOWN’s YouTube channel, including some statistics early in the video on the minutes issues for the Bulls during the 2014-15 season here.

Next: Fred Hoiberg: A good fit in Chicago?

More from Pippen Ain't Easy