Chicago Bulls: Grading Jim Boylen through 10 games

Chicago Bulls head coach Jim Boylen follows the action during their NBA Global Games match against the Orlando Magic at the Mexico City Arena, on December 13, 2018, in Mexico City. (Photo by PEDRO PARDO / AFP) (Photo credit should read PEDRO PARDO/AFP/Getty Images)
Chicago Bulls head coach Jim Boylen follows the action during their NBA Global Games match against the Orlando Magic at the Mexico City Arena, on December 13, 2018, in Mexico City. (Photo by PEDRO PARDO / AFP) (Photo credit should read PEDRO PARDO/AFP/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Bulls head coach Jim Boylen is officially through his first 10 games as a head coach in the NBA. How well has he done so far?

When the Chicago Bulls fired Fred Hoiberg on December 3rd, it was tough to understand the decision. Most people didn’t expect Hoiberg to be around for the long haul, but the timing of the coaching change didn’t make much sense. In fact, it didn’t make any sense. The Bulls’ losing season definitely wasn’t Hoiberg’s fault, and it’s not like a coaching change was going to catapult them into the playoffs, so why not just wait until the end of the season? Or, if they knew Hoiberg wasn’t the right guy for the job, why not fire him last offseason?

Of course, it’s not like Bulls fans are accustomed to Gar Forman and John Paxson making a whole lot of sense. Maybe this type of move should’ve been expected.

Now that the Bulls have hired Jim Boylen as the head coach, the timing of the Hoiberg firing doesn’t really matter anymore. All the Bulls and their fans can do now is move forward with Boylen and hope things work out.

The first two games under Boylen seemed to actually go pretty well. The first game was a 96-90 loss to a really solid Indiana Pacers team. Despite the loss, the team looked like they had a lot of fight. Their energy was high and they looked like a team that was ready to start winning some games.

Their next game was a 114-112 upset win over the Oklahoma City Thunder – one of the best teams in the league. Starting 1-1 with Boylen and playing in two competitive games against good teams gave me a lot of hope for the rest of the 2018-19 season. As most of you know, however, the stretch of positivity would end right after the Thunder game.

The Bulls followed up their impressive victory over the Thunder with the worst loss in the team’s history the following night. The 133-77 home loss to the Boston Celtics was flat out embarrassing and had a lot of Bulls fans calling for Boylen’s job.

It wasn’t only the final score of that game that made Bulls fans upset with Coach Boylen, though. There was a slew of things within 24 hours of the tip-off that set Bulls Twitter on fire, including Boylen’s substitution patterns and the whole practice fiasco the next morning.

Sidebar: professional basketball players don’t always like being subbed off hockey style multiple times in one game. It can (understandably) be looked at as embarrassing. 

After that game, the Bulls got blown out at home again, which meant they were booed off the floor at the United Center for the second straight game. If there was ever a time when Bulls fans missed Fred Hoiberg, it was right after those two games.

The Bulls looked like they were headed for multiple weeks of disastrous basketball but to Boylen’s credit, the team turned it around, and after two good wins, they’re now 4-6 in Boylen’s first 10 games.

It’s tough to tell how good of a job Boylen is doing after 10 games. The offense is historically bad, but the defense has actually been pretty good. Since Boylen took over the head coaching duties, the Bulls are tied for last in offensive rating (98.4) but tied for 8th in defensive rating (106.2).

The bad news for the Bulls is that offense is what matters most in the world of basketball today. Defense is definitely still important, but offense is of the utmost importance.

While it’s still early in Boylen’s head coaching career, his offensive philosophy is concerning, to say the least. His enthusiasm for a slow-paced offense is brutal to watch.

It’s definitely good that Boylen has gotten the Bulls to buy in on the defensive end of the court. If an NBA team wants to be successful, they have to at least care about defense. But if Boylen can’t adapt to the modern NBA and implement a fast-paced offensive system, his time as a head coach will surely be short-lived.

Next. 3 external coaching candidates to consider. dark

Grade: C-