• Connor Burgan

Dave Joerger: The Answer For the Chicago Bulls

With the Chicago Bulls wanting to get rid of Jim Boylen, the real answer for the Bulls is ready right now in Dave Joerger.

Photo from NBCBayArea.com

On April 11th, 2019, the Sacramento Kings shocked the basketball world (including myself) by firing head coach, Dave Joerger after the Kings had their best season in over 13 seasons. While the firing was due to a poor finish to the season after making a big push for the playoffs and front office issues with assistant general manager Brandon Williams over Marvin Bagley, the firing seemed ridiculous for Vlade Divac to do with the way Joerger has developed the fastest team in the NBA.

Under Joergers watch for the 2018-2019 season, the Kings finished 39-43, ranking top 10 in the NBA in PPG (9th), three point percentage (4th), pace (5th), offensive rebounding (9th), and steals (10th). To this day, Joerger has not been signed which has been surprising due to other coaches being signed or kept, but the chances for Joerger to coach again are quite high. It has been rumored the Chicago Bulls are looking to part ways with head coach, Jim Boylen, and this may be the perfect situation for Dave Joerger to prove why he was a top coach in the NBA in Sacramento for a variety of reasons.

1. A New Identity

Photo from Bulls.com

The Chicago Bulls have begun a new direction, after breaking up the 18-year front office duo John Paxson and Gar Forman, or as many Bulls fans call it "GarPax". The Bulls have realized it's time to change things for the best, bringing in the former GM of the Denver Nuggets, Arturas Karnisovas.

Karnisovas has been in charge of the Nuggets since 2017, becoming one of the best teams in the western conference and with development of players such as Nikola Jokic, Gary Harris, Jamal Murray, and much more. Karnisovas has seen first handed the job a coach like Michael Malone has done, after being randomly fired from the Sacramento Kings in 2014, when Karnisovas was the assistant general manager at the time.

The potential of Karnisovas just picking up the latest coach fired from the Kings could become a possibility again as Dave Joerger proved his ability to develop a young, athletic team, such as Michael Malone did for the Nuggets. Joerger and Malone have both been known to be a defensive minded coach, but different roster builds have made both coaches have to adjust to their styles of coaching. Having a coach like Joerger who is similar to what Malone was able to do for the Nuggets would be a great foundational piece to the Bulls front office, allowing them the ability to construct a roster to what they feel is best, and not only to the coaches style of play.

2. The Plethora of Athleticism

It is no secret that the Chicago Bulls have a bunch of highly athletic individuals that can out run many teams in the NBA, but never did. With the talents of Zach Lavine, Lauri Markkanen, Coby White, Daniel Gafford, and Wendell Carter Jr. the Bulls still found themselves struggling to establish an offensive identity. According to Basketball Reference, the 2019-2020 Chicago Bulls ranked 26th in points per game, 25th in field goal percentage, 24th from three, 16th in pace, and 26th in free throw attempts. These numbers are tough for many Bulls fan to know and watch, but this is where Dave Joerger can begin to fix things.

Dave Joerger was never known to be an uptempo offensive coach, instead preferred a slowed down, low post offense centered around back door screenings to get easy layups in the paint. When Joerger realized that a Sacramento Kings led team with De'Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, Marvin Bagley, and Bogdan Bogdanovic doesn't thrive in that situation, Joerger decided to make the Kings run until the wheels fell off. This strategy was proven successful for the Kings as they instantly became a top 10 offensive team in the NBA using their athleticism after ranking dead last in points per game the season before. Joerger's fast paced offense may have sparked more ideas for himself in the future, and who else but the Chicago Bulls to test it out with?

With a Bulls team being led by a high flying Zach Lavine and the shooting of Lauri Markkanen and driving abilities of Coby White, this trio led by Dave Joerger could wreck havoc for the eastern conference and maybe save Lauri Markkanen's relationship with the Bulls. Dave Joerger has fallen in love with the stretch fours who can create more spacing for driving abilities, and having a shooter like Markannen to utilize that with is perfect, unlike Jim Boylen's tendencies to not involve Lauri into the game plan anymore. Markkanen's dispute wanting out in Chicago may be solved under new guidance under Dave Joerger.

3. Third Times the Charm

It's no secret that Dave Joerger hasn't been in the best situations with front offices, but the third time is always supposed to do the trick. Joerger's time in Memphis was ending on a sour note in 2015 as Joerger applied for the head coach position in Minnesota, giving Joerger the chance to coach in front of his hometown. Once Joerger asked the Grizzlies to be allowed to take the interview, Grizzlies front office was not happy with it and decided that once Joerger's contract is up, he will be gone. More issues continued to arise in Memphis for Joerger as one of his favorite players, Courtney Lee was traded to the Hornets without knowing this would happen, leading up to Joerger's dismissal in Memphis at the end of the season.

In Sacramento, things seemed to become more stable as Vlade Divac had full trust in Joerger going into the 2018-2019 offseason. Reports then surfaced early in the season that assistant general manager, Brandon Williams and Joerger were arguing over the future of the Kings regarding starting Marvin Bagley over Nemenjia Bjelica and also further reports that Joerger had issues with Marvin Bagley and Buddy Hield and not communicating with players and the front office. After Joerger's sudden removal with one year left on his contract, Joerger described himself "bleeding purple" and seemed shocked with the news. With being on the bad end of the stick for both teams Joerger has coached, Chicago may truly be the light at the end of the tunnel.

Theres no arguing that Dave Joerger isn't a good coach in the NBA, he's just never been in the right situation. Chicago may truly be the final destination for Joerger to unlock his true potential on a franchise wanting to start fresh in all aspects with new front office leadership and new coaching. Joerger has the talent and tools to transform a desperate Chicago Bulls team, it's now up to the Bulls to make the right decision.

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