Thompson: Three reasons why Donovan is a great fit for Bulls
After interviewing potential candidates, the Chicago Bulls chose former Oklahoma City Thunder coach Billy Donovan as their new head coach on Tuesday. How does Donovan not only fit this current roster but the future of the franchise? Here are my three reasons why this was a great hire by the Bulls.
Experience with Youth
Even though Donovan has reached the Western Conference Finals and coached teams that had some of the most talented players in the league (Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Paul George), his best coaching job was this past season in Oklahoma City. This year’s team had five players over the age of 27 and that is counting Andre Roberson who played a grand total of eight games this season.
But players like Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Luguentz Dort, Terrance Ferguson and Darius Bazley all excelled and played key roles on this year’s team and none of them are over the age of 22. Even more evidence is what Donovan accomplished at the University of Florida during his college coaching days.
The current Bulls roster has only four players over the age of 26 and two players (Thaddeus Young and Otto Porter Jr.) who have played more than seven seasons in the league. This plays into the hands of a coach with plenty of experience dealing with younger players.
Designing Offenses with Scorers in Mind
Each time Donovan has had a player who can score over 20 points a game, his offenses have not finished lower than 12th in the league in points per game. This year’s Thunder team did finish 21st in the league, but they had four players average at least 17 points per game and no player over 19.5 points per game.
Over the last four years, the Bulls haven’t finished above 23rd in the league in points per game and that’s having current leading scorer Zach LaVine average more than 23.5 points per game in each of the last two seasons. With scorers like Coby White and Lauri Markkanen along with LaVine, Donovan should be able to get this team into the top half of the league in points per game.
Commitment to Winning
One of the main reasons why Donovan left a team that he led to the playoffs in each season he has coached in the NBA is because the Thunder was headed to a potential rebuilding situation. With All-NBA second team point guard Chris Paul turning 36 and Danilo Gallinari entering free agency, the Thunder's already thin chances to winning a championship had become much more unlikely. So the mutual parting of the ways between Donovan and the Thunder was inevitable.
With a new executive vice president of basketball operations (Arturas Karnisovas), new general manager (Marc Eversley) and fourth overall pick in this year's NBA Draft, deciding on Donovan as the team’s new leader signals two things:
First, that the Bulls are ready to make the playoffs in 2021. But most importantly, that they are ready to become a threat in the Eastern Conference going into the future.
Which makes the Bulls, who have potential available cap space next summer, a major player in a free agency class that could be one of the best in the league's history.