The Chicago Bulls have one of the best coaches in the league in Tom Thibodeau. He is arguably the best defensive mind in the NBA, and has led the Bulls to success in the last few years. If there’s one criticism of Thibodeau that can be justified, it’s that he can play his starters a lot of minutes, and it can lead to injuries.
In Wednesday night’s triple-overtime win against the Magic, Jimmy Butler logged 60 minutes for the Bulls, and that has been met with some criticism. Thibodeau spoke to that on Friday, according to the Chicago Tribune:
“If you look at any box score in a triple overtime game, there are going to be guys who play minutes,” Thibodeau said. “You can’t not play guys.”
“I think you guys watch that,” he said. “I think when you look at that, you have to compare apples to apples. If you look at the top small forwards in the league and you look at where their minutes are, they all averaged 37-38 minutes. So if you want to say Lu played 20 seconds a game more than he should’ve, so be it.
“If you look at total minutes, it wasn’t even close. Overall, our minutes are way below what normal starters do. And if you guys study the history of the league, which I’m sure you do, the great Bulls teams you’d see that (Michael) Jordan and (Scottie) Pippen well into their 30s were playing huge minutes. So I’m trying to be like Phil (Jackson).”
Clearly, he was taking a jab at his critics with that last line. Whether he likes it or not, Thibodeau does play his guys a lot of minutes, and it does seem as if guys like Joakim Noah, Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler, and Luol Deng (who is a Cav now) are injured every season. Some reports say that management isn’t in favor of his management of minutes, and things could end in divorce.