Fred Hoiberg is asserting himself more and voicing his frustration with his young team on a regular basis now. And that’s a good thing.

There have been a lot of negative words thrown out about Fred Hoiberg and his coaching abilities. Many have called him too passive. Others have questioned his leadership. The lack of execution on plays, particularly out of time outs has received a lot of criticism.

And if you don’t think Fred hasn’t been paying attention you’re quite mistaken. This is a very important year for Hoiberg and his staff. He’s in year four of a five year deal. And he knows the stakes are high for him to show that the current Bulls roster is one that should have him in control for the immediate future.

The roster has improved dramatically since Hoiberg landed the job as head coach. But, the Bulls remain weeks away from returning reinforcements in Lauri Markkanen, Kris Dunn, Bobby Portis and Denzel Valentine.

However, Hoiberg will not make any excuses for his teams recent losses. They have competed very well against playoff caliber teams who have a healthy roster intact. But competing is not enough. Hoiberg wants, and is demanding that his team show more grit and determination with each possession and start winning some very winnable games.

According to K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune, Hoberg stated this:“As far as what I want to accomplish, I want to get our guys to buy into competing and being the hardest-playing team every night.”

Yes the kid gloves are finally starting to come off. That’s why he chided Jabari Parker finally for his lack of hustle on defense in a road loss to the Pelicans. And also why Cameron Payne has been riding the bench in late game situations.

Hoiberg can finally run the team how he sees fit without having veterans chirping in his ear or behind his back undercutting his influence.

Robin Lopez wasn’t happy about his diminished role so that Cristiano Felicio could be given more minutes. Parker’s wasn’t happy about his demotion to the second unit. Where as a few years ago such confrontations would have been settled in private, Hoiberg has publicly and judiciously dealt with both circumstances in the public.

It’s becoming very clear that if Hoiberg wants to survive, he’ll have to start making sure the team executes his demands his way. He’ll continue to sub out Parker for players who can play sound defense. Payne will continue to see reduced minutes if Ryan Arcidiacono keeps outplaying him.

And with this team at full strength, nothing in the future should change. He should still hold players accountable once his reinforcements get back. And he still needs to be actively involved in making sure his players continue to develop. We can see the improvement in Zach Lavine’s game as he’s attacking the rim more and shooting a career best 46%. That same upward tick in player development must continue with Dunn, Markkanen, Portis, and Valentine once they return.

Besides, he was given a clear mandate by the front office. They want to see a cohesive efficient unit, that is willing to fight for one another on the court.

It’s not clear whether Hoiberg will be given a wider rope to make sure these Bulls players continue to develop into the near future. But its is clear that Hoiberg is becoming more assertive with management’s approval.


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