Full disclosure: I have spent a large portion of my Internet scribbling career gushing over Fred Hoiberg.
Then, however, as he decided to leave the realm of college basketball for the NBA, my tune changed because of an uncertainty I had for his fit with the Chicago Bulls.
That said, there is still a reason to be excited in Chicago. A complete shift is going to happen. Jimmy Butler should no longer play 51 minutes a game (didn’t it feel that way under Tom Thibodeau?). Certain players on the roster should excel under Hoiberg. There’s legitimate reason for optimism if for no other reason than a change of coach.
The presence of Hoiberg in Chicago should matter most in the playoffs, but the extreme contrast between his and Tom Thibodeau’s systems provides a level of regular-season intrigue which would otherwise be absent.
Despite being one of the world’s foremost Hoiberg-lovers, I am not even remotely close to buying in to the degree many others have. Some are saying that “Hoiball” will give Doug McDermott a system which will help his career soar to new heights.
There isn’t any proof — at least not yet — to argue against the idea of it, yet there’s also no proof that it will happen. It is merely one of those situations where seeing is believing, and I am not one to put any stock into the preseason. If anything, the preseason only holds value when players look back. Looking good in the preseason means as much as accepting a friend request on Facebook — at least to me.
No matter. The NBA community is about to find everything it needs to know about Fred Hoiberg and his much-touted Hoiball. Whether it is altered much from its college version — up-tempo, three-point-heavy, no true point guard — is yet to be seen. However, it will be incredibly fun to witness which players, if any, thrive under a system which made every player on the court a dangerous offensive weapon at Iowa State. Hell yes, McDermott might end up being the best version of himself under Hoiball.
Part of that might be why Hoiberg has been tinkering with the rotation. Joakim Noah is reportedly coming off the bench now. One can only assume it is being done for a plethora of reasons, ranging from Noah’s limited offense to resting those worn-down legs for the playoffs.
Regardless of reason, though, having a longtime pillar of Chicago’s success come off the bench is a “different” move, one that can alter how we view Hoiberg as a coach as the season continues. It is also a move that might become a non-story if the coach decides to change his mind a few games into the season.
The thing is, unlike other college coaches coming into the league, Hoiberg has a legitimate NBA pedigree. That is why fans aren’t simply banking on the Hoiball system — which may or may not actually be used as it was at Iowa State — and can hang their hats on the idea of increasing success from their previous coach to their new one.
Despite my trepidation of believing in the fit of Hoiberg with the Bulls, I have already warmed to the idea that Jimmy Butler can flourish under the offense-minded coach. So much so, in fact, I have him pegged as a legitimate MVP candidate. If nothing else, we should — presumably — see the best offensive version of every Chicago player.
Again, though, none of our thoughts on Hoiberg as the Chicago Bulls’ coach will matter in a short while. The season is only hours away from starting. The proof will be in the pudding soon enough. We might not know right away if Hoiball is a success in the NBA, or if it will take time to develop or if it never will, but we will get our first real look at everything college basketball fans have been drooling over for years.
Will Fred Hoiberg join the supposedly long line of college coaches to fail in the NBA? Will he be everything everyone in Chicago dreamed he can be? No one knows. Not yet. That said, the wait is over. The world is going to find out if the Mayor of Ames is going to end up the Governor of Chicago (ehhh… new nickname recommendations are welcome…), or if he’s going to be impeached before his tenure witnesses the passage of its first bill.
Hooray, NBA regular season. It’s a place where the Bulls were always competent, but a new level of intrigue exists because of an extreme contrast in systems relative to the 2014-’15 Bulls.
Here’s looking at you, Fred Hoiberg. Here’s looking at you and your precious Hoiball.
If you please the Hoi Polloi in the Windy City, you’ll be loved on a much wider scale.