Chicago Bulls: How much blame should Fred Hoiberg be getting?

(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) /

The Chicago Bulls are off to an embarrassing start in the 2018-19 season. Is Fred Hoiberg to blame, or is something else going wrong?

The Chicago Bulls have looked decent during some stretches of the young 2018-19 NBA season, but at other times, they’ve looked embarrassing. Against the Golden State Warriors, they looked like a sorry excuse for an NBA team.

Anytime a player splashes home 14 3-pointers against you, it’s not only because that player had the hot hand – it’s partially because you were doing something wrong.

For example, Klay Thompson’s record-breaking 14th (and final) 3-point basket of the game came on a terrible defensive effort by multiple Bulls.

Pay special attention to Justin Holiday and Chandler Hutchison.

(via GIPHY)

This play came after multiple possessions where the Warriors were deliberately trying to get Klay the ball. The record was on the line and everybody in the United Center knew where the ball was going, and yet all Thompson had to do to get open was come off a simple down screen from Stephen Curry.

This was the single most obvious play of the night and multiple Bulls just let it happen. The game was already over at this point, so I understand that it would be difficult to give maximum effort on the defensive end every play, but when a record is on the line, it should be personal.

I highly doubt the Bulls are thrilled to know that an improbable, record-breaking shooting performance happened against them on their home court.

So how much of the Bulls’ woes are on head coach Fred Hoiberg?

Tons of Bulls fans have been calling for Hoiberg’s job already. It’s understandable, surely someone has to be blamed for giving up 92 first-half points (by the way, I don’t care if it was the Warriors or the Monstars – giving up 92 first-half points is an abomination). The easy answer seems to be Hoiberg.

Surely Tom Thibodeau wouldn’t let this happen… Right?

That’s probably true, but it’s important to remember who Thibs had on his team when he was the Bulls’ head coach. If Hoiberg had prime Luol Deng, prime Joakim Noah, prime Taj Gibson and a young, hungry Jimmy Butler, I’m sure this wouldn’t have happened to Hoiberg’s team either.

But that’s not who Hoiberg has. Hoiberg has a young, up-and-coming team full of potential, not an established group of defensive stars.

So who’s to blame? Is it the front office for putting this roster together, or is it the players for not playing hard enough?

It’s on the players.

If you go back and watch the clip of Thompson’s 14th 3-point make, you’ll notice some interesting things.

For starters, Holiday needs to do a better job of staying on Thompson as he comes off the screen. I’ve seen Holiday do it before, so I know it can be done. He simply had a lazy contest on one of the best shooters in NBA history. That’s going to result in a make nearly every time.

Then, after Thompson loses Holiday, Hutchison gives a horrific effort at attempting to get a hand in front of Thompson. If this was the middle of a normal game, then sure, stick close to Kevin Durant, but when Klay is obviously going for the 3-point record, maybe cheat over on him a little bit as he curls around the screen.

Sidenote: I’m not trying to say Holiday and Hutchison are responsible for everything that happened against the Warriors. The 3-point record was a culmination of bad defense by everyone all night long and a ridiculous shooting night from Klay Thompson. I still believe in both Holiday and Hutchison as defenders, however, this type of play can’t happen. Everyone needed to make it more difficult on Klay. 

A defensive-minded head coach wouldn’t have had the answer for this play – the answer was right in front of the players the whole time. It all boiled down to a lack of desire to stop Thompson from getting the record. It really seemed like they didn’t care.

So maybe that’s on Hoiberg. Maybe Fred needs to do a better job of getting the most out of his players – maybe he doesn’t have a strong command of the locker room.

The thing is, a professional basketball team with as much history as the Chicago Bulls, shouldn’t need a head coach to motivate them to play defense – they should just want to.

Next. 3 Bulls that need to step up. dark

The Bulls need to find some motivation on the defensive end soon, or else there will be many more nights like this before the season ends.