The start of the Bulls 2019-2020 season has been awful in pretty much every sense of the word.
From disappointing defense to a slow start for Lauri Markkanen to extreme rebounding deficiencies – the Bulls might just be the saddest of the NBA bottom-feeders. Slowly but surely, this abysmal start has broken down the players, and after last night’s loss, we could hear the frustration in Zach LaVine’s voice and words.
But he’s not the only one trying to explain what’s gone wrong with his team here in the early going. LaVine is joined by his head coach, Jim Boylen, who shared his, uh, questionable analysis with K.C. Johnson earlier today:
Boylen: "I think (the players) need to take more responsibility for their preparedness. I think they need to take more ownership of their readiness to play. The head coaches in this league have never been expected to coach effort. Effort has to come from each guy."
— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) November 4, 2019
All right, let’s get this out of the way … YIKES!
Not only does this quote by Boylen represent an extreme lack of forethought on its potential impact, but it shows the sheer inexperience he holds as an NBA head coach. Whether the statement holds any truth to it or not, these words spill out of Boylen’s mouth almost as defensive as the ’85 Bears.
Am I … am I reading this correctly, or did Boylen just say:
1.) the players aren't prepared
2.) the players aren't ready to play
3.) the players aren't giving effort; and
4.) none of this is the coaches' fault https://t.co/S55pf5UgxZ
— Bleacher Nation Bulls (@BN_Bulls) November 4, 2019
The Bulls issues stretch far beyond any one player or coach, but the job of the head coach is, in large part, to rise up and take the heat. Boylen manages to do the exact opposite with this remark – I mean, he’s practically breaking the coaching code.
Ultimately, if the players aren’t expressing the proper “preparedness” or “readiness,” that’s on the coaching staff. On the surface level, the largest part of a head coach’s job is to have players ready and willing to battle night-in and night-out. For those who want to talk execution or talent, it’s fair to start questioning what’s happening on the court. Being prepared means running the appropriate game plan.
For a specific example, how about attacking the paint from the start when the Indiana Pacers are without Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis? Being ready means knowing what to expect going into a game and thus putting your players in the best position to succeed. In other words, not letting Luke Kornet get bodied by Bobby Portis on repeat.
All of this early-season failure goes both ways, and, with statements like these, I’m not sure Boylen understands that.
He can question his player’s effort if he wants, it’s one decent, hard-nosed tactic to get the best out of them. However, that questioning is normally made behind closed doors, not in front of microphones or to reporters. Not to mention, isn’t effort all about spirit, character, soul, and all that mumbo-jumbo Boylen preaches on the daily? In many ways, this is what I’ve found most ironic about many of Boylen’s comments so far this season. If the Bulls are missing one thing, it sure shouldn’t be effort. That’s his THING.
Now, with all of that said, I want to make one thing clear, Boylen really isn’t wrong.
I think all of us would be quick to question these exact things, but – again – it goes both ways. The problem here is all about how Boylen went about saying this. There is a big difference between WE and THEY. Right now, it sounds like Boylen is holding himself to a different standard, and not in a good way.
NBC Sports Chicago’s K.C. Johnson did write in his latest article that Boylen mentioned having to potentially try different approaches on the defensive end, which is at least a start toward showing some level of accountability. However, the head coach still relied heavily on playing the “mental toughness” card.
Mind game will not fix this team, even though that’s what it feels like Boylen is playing with some of his comments.
For the Bulls to succeed, everyone has to be on the same page, and if Boylen doesn’t watch his wording, he may do the exact opposite.