The main reaction among many in the NBA community when the Chicago Bulls landed Billy Donovan as their head coach? Genuine shock. They couldn’t believe a team that was one of the worst in the NBA the past few years found a way to secure one of the best available head coaches in basketball. A coach who probably could’ve had his pick of any team with a vacancy in the league. Teams with better setups than the Bulls.
So why would he do it? There are several reasons. Donovan admitted he felt an immediate connection with Arturas Karnisovas when the two met in person. Their personalities just seemed to mesh. Not overly outspoken but basketball junkies who just want to win. However, there might’ve been another reason worth noting.
Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic got in touch with some NBA executives who explained.
“When asked what Donovan does best, one high-ranking rival front office exec said he puts his best players in positions to be successful. In other words, Donovan didn’t just benefit from stars in Oklahoma City, he also held up his end.
A Western Conference general manager described Donovan’s systems as sophisticated without being complex, saying he stands out offensively with how he formulates ways to punish defenses, forcing them into difficult situations.”
Billy Donovan can unlock the Bulls’ vast offensive potential
That is something nobody could say about Jim Boylen. A lot of people laughed at how inept the former Bulls coach was at scheming offense. It’s a big reason he was so hated. That ineptitude was holding back a roster of players with a boatload of offensive potential. Zach Lavine averaged 25 points per game this past season. Coby White averaged 13.2 as a rookie. A year ago Lauri Markkanen was up to 18.7 per game.
This lineup has loads of firepower in it. What they’ve lacked is somebody who knows how to exploit it. Donovan is that man. Despite having fewer players average double figures in points per game than the Bulls, his team was still better at scoring overall at 110.4 points per game compared to Chicago’s 106.8.
If ever there was a lineup that could allow Donovan as an offensive innovator to shine? It would be in the Bulls.