AT: Hello everyone, this is Amit Tailor from DSS. I am with Coach Ron Adams of the Chicago Bulls, formerly with the Oklahoma City Thunder. We are at the Charitabulls Dinner. Coach, welcome back to Chicago. How do you like being here for your second stint with the Bulls?
RA: It’s been good and the adjustment isn’t quite as difficult.
AT: After coaching in OKC last year, what is different about this Bulls team?
RA: Well, this team is a little bit older. Both teams are similar in one respect in that they both have really good people on the team, and I think that makes for good chemistry. I think our chemistry here is good, but I think both teams share one thing which is important from a coaching standpoint, and that is everyday in both situations, the players look forward to seeing you and look forward to working with us. We have a great group of guys here, they’re diligent, they work hard. Tom [Thibodeau] has done a good job of getting across his philosophy of basketball and they’ve bought in well.
AT: Excellent. Have you seen defensive improvement with this team from the beginning of the season to where we are right now?
RA: I’ve seen a lot of improvement with a number of players. There were returning players in this program who I’ve worked with for five years, like Luol Deng, who are very sound defensive players. And we had other players coming in, the new guys, many of whom had to get acclimated to what the demands defensively were, and I think for the most part everyone has made good progress, some guys better than others. Defense is something that if you put a lot into it, if you’re diligent and focused, everyone can do a pretty good job. In some cases it’s breaking down old habits and learning new habits, and also Coach Thibadeau’s practices are very well structured, very quick-hitting, very fundamental-oriented, and I think this has helped some of our guys become excellent defenders.
AT: When you coached in Oklahoma City, you got to mentor Russell Westbrook, and he creates a lot of match up problems. With Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook being different types of point guards, how does Derrick Rose create match up problems?
RA: I think Derrick is more of a point guard than Russell is. Russell is a capable playmaker, but terrific scorer, terrific offensive rebounder, as is Derrick. Both are terrific athletes. Russell is a marvelous kid, and a top-of-the-line athlete. He’s got Michael Jordan kind of athletic ability and he’s slightly bigger than Derrick, he’s 6’4”ish. Derrick is very similar athletically. Derrick is also a phenomenal athlete. Also, I would say genius, if I can use that word. The real foundation in Derrick’s makeup, which is different from any player that I’ve worked with, is that he has no agenda. He doesn’t go into a game saying I’m averaging 24.5 points per game and I’ve got to score 24.5 points. His approach to the game is phenomenal. Russell has a stronger desire to score. His personality is kind of built around that a little bit more, so I think that separates them some more. From an assist standpoint, both are pretty much at the same statistical point in the top ten in assists. The context in which Russell plays is a more up-and-down the court context, which is helpful for him. We kind of play a different game here. We are a pretty good open court team, but also a pretty good half-court team. I have no doubts that if Derrick were a different kind of person he could lead the league in scoring, His jump shot is coming along well, his three point shot is coming along well. It’s a terrific ride where every night he’s operating against stacked defenses. One advantage Russell has is that Kevin Durant is in front of him, and Kevin Durant is a monster.
AT: That’s a very helpful person to have on the floor. The last question I have is with Derrick Rose attacking the basket with no regard, many teams are bringing a lot of double teams to try to get the ball out of his hands. What can the other guys do to help him out?
RA: I would say there’s only one game this year where that was a vexing problem. For the most part it’s worked into our hands. I can tell you from experience in coaching against Derrick a year ago that we would have never trapped him the way teams are trapping him now because Joakim Noah was on the floor, so basically you pass to Noah and he becomes the playmaker at the free throw line. We have implemented the same philosophy this year and some of our guys are doing this well, like Carlos Boozer and Kurt Thomas. To me, when I see teams doing this to us, it’s actually working to our advantage because they’re double teaming really close to the mid-court line, which spaces the floor for us. I will guarantee you whenever Noah is back, you will not see these type of double teams, because last year it resulted in baskets. It’s automatic. Also, Joakim is a very good driver from the free throw line area as well, I would say one of our top three playmakers. That kind of strategy at the baseline has not been that effective.
AT: Thank you, Coach Adams. We really appreciate your time and wish you the best of luck for the rest of the season.
RA: Thank you so much. Good to see you again, Amit.