Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau doesn’t get lost in numbers
BY JOE COWLEY Staff Reporter October 8, 2013 9:29PM
Chicago Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau is seen on the sidelines during the first half of an NBA preseason basketball game against the Memphis Grizzlies Monday, Oct. 7, 2013, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
Tom Thibodeau quoted Winston Churchill.
It was just further evidence that when NBA coaches are cornered into discussing basketball analytics, anything can come out of their mouths.
“Churchill has a great quote that went something along the lines of he didn’t believe in any statistics that he didn’t doctor himself,’’ Thibodeau said. “I think there is a place [for analytics] in our league, and I think it’s good. It may be getting overplayed somewhat right now. I think the trained eye is very important, but numbers are a part of the equation.’’
While stats and numbers still play second fiddle to 23 years of coaching and watching for Thibodeau, he said he has been a student of analyzing numbers since he worked under former coach Bill Musselman his first few years in the NBA.
The dangers, however, are becoming obsessed with the numbers and basing full evaluations on them, or not understanding how to work the numbers so they give a coach or executive a true measurement.
“The biggest thing when you’re looking at statistics is comparing apples to apples,’’ Thibodeau said. “Often times that gets overlooked. So there is a biased confirmation. You can go into it and say, ‘OK, this is what I think,’ and you can get the numbers to confess to anything.’’
If there were any concerns about Derrick Rose’s surgically repaired left knee not getting tested early enough this preseason, they can be put to rest.
After facing the physical Indiana Pacers in his debut, Rose went head-to-head with speedy Memphis Grizzlies guard Mike Conley. Next up is the Washington Wizards’ lightning-quick John Wall.
“Every point guard I face is a challenge,’’ Rose said. “There are so many good guards right now, it’s always a test.’’