April 25, 2013
Joakim Noah did not win Defensive Player of the Year. Marc Gasol did.
And deservedly so.
Gasol was fifth in the league in Defensive Rating and second overall in Defensive Win Shares. He averaged 1.7 blocks per game and 1.0 steals. Perhaps most importantly, the Memphis Grizzlies held opponents to 88.7 points per game, the lowest mark in the league.
The video doesn’t lie: this guy is an elite defender both in terms of individual defense and team defense. He absolutely anchors the Memphis defense.
Of course, all the same things can be said of Joakim Noah. Chicago’s Game 2 win over the Nets proved it beyond any shadow of a doubt. And back in January, Noah was certainly one of the leading candidates for this particular honor.
Unfortunately, Noah developed a case of plantar faciitis and started missing games, a total 16 in all. Typically speaking, players who miss chunks of the season due to injury don’t win NBA end-of-year awards.
Still, Noah made a good showing, receiving 13 first-place votes and earning a total of 107 points. He placed fourth behind Gasol (212), LeBron James (149) and Serge Ibaka (122).
Not bad company to be in all things considered.
The big man didn’t seem too broken up about not winning the award.
Said Noah: ”It’s all right. It’s not about that right now. It’s not about individual accolades or any of that. All my energy is on Game 3 right now. We put ourselves in a pretty good position. Now we’ve got home court. That’s what it’s all about. I’m not really worried about it.”
Did I mention Noah has also said he feels better and expects to play about as many minutes in Game 3 as he did in Game 2?
For what it’s worth, Luol Deng received a single first-place vote and Jimmy Butler got a second-place vote.
May 12, 2011
Chicago Bulls General Manager Gar Forman and Miami Heat President Pat Riley are co-recipients of the 2010-11 NBA Executive of the Year award, the NBA announced today.
In his 13th season with Chicago and second as its general manager, Forman saw the Bulls win a league-best 62 games, rookie coach Tom Thibodeau earn the Red Auerbach Trophy as the 2010-11 NBA Coach of the Year, and Derrick Rose become the youngest player to win the Maurice Podoloff Trophy as the 2010-11 Kia NBA Most Valuable Player. Forman transformed a 41-win Bulls team by signing free agents Carlos Boozer, Ronnie Brewer, and Kyle Korver among others.
Forman and Riley received each received 11 of a possible 30 votes from a panel of their fellow team executives throughout the NBA. The Bulls’ John Paxson finished third with three votes and San Antonio’s R.C. Buford finished fourth with two votes. Oklahoma City’s Sam Presti, New Jersey’s Billy King and New York’s Donnie Walsh received one vote each.
I don’t mean to take anything away from Pat Riley. He cleared a lot of cap space to sign Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James last summer. But he was also exceptionally fortunate that those guys wanted to play together. And, as far as we can tell (although it may never be proven), that had much more to do with the players than it did with Riley.
Meanwhile, Forman cleared cap space just like Riley did, only he had to endure and recover from rejection by all three of those players. Seriously, Forman (with Jerry Reinsdorf and John Paxson) went all in to sign James, Wade and/or Bosh…and got none of them. Yet he still managed to go out and acquire exactly the right mix of players to surround MVP Derrick Rose with. Oh, and he also brought in Tom Thibodeau, who won the Coach of the Year award.
The numbers don’t lie: 62 wins. Best in the league. Despite losing out on Options A, B and C. What’s more, with the way some of the new contracts were structured — specifically Brewer’s, Korver’s and Watson’s — Forman gave the team future cap flexibility (in theory depending on the new CBA).
Gar also made a midseason trade (James Johnson to the Raptors for a future round draft pick) so he could go after O.J. Mayo before the trade deadline. That deal didn’t pan out, apparently because Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley doesn’t like doing business with the Bulls, but it shows the kind of savvy team building Forman is trying to accomplish.
Forman’s moves have been both good for the team and smart from a financial standpoint. Again, no offense to Riley, but having three great players (and two of the top five in the game) decide they want to team up in one of the country’s most beautiful (and party-centric) cities is at least part luck. And a big part. Forman’s job was much more difficult.
Whatever the case, at least Gar gets a share of the award. It’s well deserved.
May 2, 2011
Mike McGraw of the Daily Herald writes: “In his first season as an NBA head coach, Thibodeau led the Bulls to the NBA’s best record at 62-20. That matched Paul Westphal (Phoenix, 1992-93) for the best record by a first-year coach. … He’s the Bulls’ fourth coach of the year, following Johnny “Red” Kerr (’67), Dick Motta (’71) and Phil Jackson (’96).”
And, as ESPNChicago’s Nick Friedell and everybody in the Bulls organization points out, the honor was well-earned. Taking a team from 41 wins to 62 wins is a major accomplishment, especially considering the player turnover and the fact that Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah combined to miss 60 games.
Said Thibodeau: ”I’m flattered, humbled and honored to receive this award, but I think it represents a lot more than just me. And it certainly reflects our team winning and our entire organization.”
Added Bulls GM Gar Forman: “When you look at the numbers this year, it’s easy to see the impact Tom made on this team. This team ended up No. 1 in defensive field-goal percentage, No. 1 in 3-point percentage, No. 1 in rebounding, No. 2 in point differential, No. 2 in points allowed and probably most importantly No. 1 in wins with 62. But to me, it’s about much more than that. It was everybody’s belief here from Jerry Reinsdorf to myself to John (Paxson) and even our players that in order for us to continue to build towards becoming a championship-caliber team that this team needed an identity and base to it. And we needed that base to be built on defense and rebounding. I know Tom felt the same way. What Tom was able to do was create a culture that was based on that.”
Forman really hit the nail on the head there. This season truly was about creating a culture as much as it was about the Xs and Os of basketball. Thibs has instilled so much into this particular Bulls team.
Attention to detail.
That’s not to say that some or most of the players didn’t already, at times, display those characteristics. But, this season at least, they did it with a night in, night out consistency that was sorely lacking during the Vinny Del Negro era. The Bulls brought all-out effort every night…in large part because Thibodeau demanded it.
Said Noah: ”[I'm] very happy for him. Very well deserving. Coach is one of the hardest workers I’ve ever been around. He stays in late. He’s the first one here. He was here for me all summer, working me out, and I feel like I really improved as a player because of him in just one year. Very tough coach. And I’m happy for him.”
Added Luol Deng: ”He’s a great coach on and off the court. Just the way we approach games, you can take that into everyday life. It’s about being a man and handling your responsibility. He holds you accountable. Becoming winners and winning 62 games, it became a habit. He brought it from Day One in training camp. We bought into it. He’s very demanding. But he’s right.”
On the surface, the way Thibs runs the team reminds me of the way Scott Skiles did during his tenure. However, based on comments made by some of the players on those teams, Skiles came off as a surly taskmaster. As hard as Thibodeau works this team — and he works them pretty darn hard — the players always talk about him with a respect that borders on genuine affection.
That bodes well for the future. With Skiles, the players got worn down and tuned him out. That may not happen with Thibs. It helps that the players — most notably Derrick Rose — buy into what Thibodeau is selling without any hesitation.
Anyway, congrats, Thibs. You earned it.
April 22, 2009
Here’s a piece of breaking news that should shock absolutely nobody: Derrick Rose is the NBA Rookie of the Year.
From K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune: “The Bulls have called a 2 p.m. news conference Wednesday to announce that Derrick Rose has won the NBA’s Rookie of the Year award. Rose joins Michael Jordan and Elton Brand as the only Bulls to win the award. Rose led rookies in assists (6.3) and minutes played (37.0) and finished second to Memphis’ O.J. Mayo in scoring, averaging 16.8 points per game. … Rose also is the only rookie starting on a playoff team.”
Update! By the Horns reader Prashant provided a couple corrections to Johnson’s article: “K.C. got at least two facts wrong, just in the sentences you snippeted — Rose is actually 2nd in minutes played (behind Mayo), and as for rookies starting for playoff teams, ummm, what about Courtney Lee?” Prashant is right. Plus, Pete and Meredith pointed out that rookie Mario Chalmers has been starting for the fifth-seeded Heat all season long. A wag of the finger goes to K.C. for not checking his facts a little more carefully…and a Dikembe Mutumbo-like wag of the finger goes to me for simply assuming he had it right. That there was some lazy blogging.
Some other quick Rose rookie rankings, of the advanced statistical kind: He was 3rd in Value Added (226.1), 3rd in Estimated Wins Added (7.5), 4th in Assist Ratio (25.2), 5th in Usage Rate (22.1) and 10th in PER (16.05). Go here if you’re not sure what those numbers mean. (Here’s some shorthand: They mean he’s really good.)
Speaking as someone who wasn’t initially in favor of the Rose pick — I thought Paxson should go after Michael Beasley to fill their continuing need for inside scoring — it has been a total blast watching him play. I knew he was going to be good, but he was far better out of the gate than I could have expected. He never hit the dreaded rookie wall. He never lost confidence, even when the team was really struggling to beat even the worst of teams back in January. He developed his jump shot during the season. Though far from perfect, particularly on defense, he was a steady presence every single night.
What’s more, Derrick gives me real hope for the team’s future. Even when experts were foolishly projecting the Bulls as a potential Finals team after their overachieving 2006-07 campaign, I never felt like they had “it.” You know, the superstar power necessary to make it to The Next Level. Well, Derrick is “it.” I really believe that. And this award…well, get ready, because it’s going to be the first of many.
Another update! By the Horns reader Brad had this to say about Derrick: “You know my favorite thing about Rose? Sure he has tremendous quickness. His ability to finish at the rim is incredible. Gaining a jump shot during the season is impressive. And his assist-to-turnover ratio is excellent. But my favorite thing? I just really LIKE him. And that I mean as a person. I would root for him if he was the last guy on the bench. I would root for him in a rec league game. I would enjoy having him over for a backyard BBQ. He just seems to be a quality person as well as a jaw dropping talent.”