The Windy City Bulls are one of three new one-to-one franchises that have been established in the past year, and it couldn't have come at a better time. Now entering a season of uncertainty, having a D-League team to develop young talent and scout diamonds in the rough while keeping it close to home will only improve things going forward.
The Bulls had a shared affiliation with Phoenix through the Iowa Energy, but were reluctant to send players to Des Moines due to all the injuries the team would experience. They simply couldn't spare players on some nights. That will no longer be a problem as the Windy City Bulls will be located right at Hoffman Estates. General Manager Gar Forman touched on how important proximity is when the team was announced in November.
"An example might be we just got out of practice an hour ago," he said at the press conference. "Maybe Bobby Portis or Cameron Bairstow, who practiced with us this morning, they go to Hoffman Estates tonight. They get 35 minutes of great, quality basketball on the floor and they are back in our building (for practice with the team) tomorrow."
Having a D-League team just minutes outside of town will give the Bulls a unique chance to oversee every aspect of the player's development, while giving him the extremely valuable experience that comes with playing in the D-League. By adding the Windy City Bulls to the development process, Chicago has created a system that will encourage maximizing each player's potential.
"This organization has a great belief in building through the draft and in player development from within," said Forman. "We've been among the league leaders in drafted players on our roster and retaining those players into a second contract and beyond and we think it is a key ingredient to sustaining success over a long period of time."
No coach has been announced as of yet, but Forman did say that the Bulls will hire a coach, staff, and medical personnel that will all report directly to Bulls management and work closely with head coach Fred Hoiberg. The plan from the get-go was to institute the same, or virtually the same system that Hoiberg runs with Chicago. Teams are hiring coaches now, so it wouldn't be far-fetched for a head coach to be named any day now.
Hoiberg's system has always thrived on players that can bring multiple things to the table. During his Iowa State days, his system was built around position-less players like Georges Niang and DeAndre Kane who created opportunities for wide open threes, drives to the rim, or space for an open jumper. Despite what his Bull offense looked like last season, he likes to play fast-paced and up-tempo.
Last season, Chicago saw a lot of growing pains that are common when a radically different system is introduced. Hoiberg was instituting a system that didn't fit the personnel, but after some radical changes to the roster, things should (hopefully) be different this season. The Windy City Bulls will be a blank-slate, so expect them to run a ton of sets featuring lots of high-post screens, three point attempts, cuts towards the basket, and looks at the rim.
The D-League is a guard-oriented league, but also one where experimentation is encouraged and defense is not always emphasized. Hoiberg's system should thrive at this level, so don't be surprised to see Windy City towards the top of points per 100 possessions and transition opportunities.
The Windy City Bulls mark a new era in Chicago basketball. Derrick Rose is gone, Joakim Noah is gone, Fred Hoiberg is the anthesis of previous coach Tom Thibodeau. The fast pace of the NBA can be overwhelming to some players and instituting a new system after a coach like Thibodeau can be hard for players from previous staffs to grasp immediately. Getting young players to experience the system in both the NBA and D-League will only help them master it.