Before their recent struggles, one of the early surprises of the season was the Atlanta Hawks.
Former Bull, Kyle Korver has been a big part of the Hawks new system that doesn’t revolve around isolation-heavy sets and his 43 percent shooting from three is a big reason why Atlanta is currently sixth in the league from distance at .374.
Korver joked during the first meeting between his current and former team (a 92-75 Hawks win in Atlanta) that he didn’t miss coach Tom Thibodeau’s practices, but credited the coach for his part in helping him become a better overall player.
Before the Bulls record setting 97-58 win over Atlanta Monday night, Korver continued the praise of Thibodeau and feels it’s no surprise at why the Bulls have been as good as they have this season without Derrick Rose.
“Thibs has a great system put in place,” Korver said. “He’s got guys who have bought in 100 percent. As long as those guys continue to do that, they’re going to be a tough team to play against. They play great defense, they play hard and they still have pieces who can score. They don’t have the flashy plays that Derrick brought, but they still play solid basketball. Solid basketball in the NBA gets you a lot of wins.
“I think the grass is always greener on the other side,” he continued. “Sometimes you’re like ‘we have to do closeouts again? It’s Cleveland, its 20 degrees in this arena, we’re at shootaround.’ But you can’t argue with the final result, for sure. You just can’t. Thibs is a great coach, a very demanding coach. I don’t think he could coach every team because a lot of guys can’t take it. But they have a group in that locker room that can and that’s what makes them special. They’ll keep on finding guys who will and I’m sure they’ll continue to do that. If you get guys who will buy in than you’re going to have a great defense, you’re going to grind every night and it gets you far in this league.”
Like every player that has been on the Bulls’ roster the previous two seasons, it’s hard to recount them because of the fact that all within the organization felt that they were going to win a title. Last season hurt the most as everyone within the organization felt that they were going to win a title, but health issues crushed those aspirations and the Bulls fell to the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round.
“We felt good about our team,” Korver said. “The whole year, the whole mindset was ‘we’re going to hold it down ‘til Derrick gets back.’ We really lived that out every day. Definitely a disappointing year, you have a lockout, tough year. All the games and everything was tough. At the end of the day, we didn’t get a championship. But I think if you go back to anyone that played on those teams, they would be proud of the season we had, just because you really put it all out there. We were all broken and out of gas. We left it all out there. It was just a tough year, from a health prospective.”