Derrick Rose has been there from the start with Tom Thibodeau.
Okay, not back when Thibodeau was an assistant in New York under Jeff Van Gundy, or when he was the mastermind of the 2008 Celtics defense that won a title, but from the day Thibodeau landed in Chicago as a head coach, Rose was there. Rose and Thibodeau were together again in Minnesota and are again in New York.
Rose has seen growth in Thibodeau, as he told Zach Braziller of the New York Post.
“It shows that he’s improved as a coach. He’s already a great coach, but every year he’s improving and adjusting,” Rose said. “That’s the big difference that I see with him this year. He’s giving guys more freedom to go out there and play the way they want. He’s being positive on the court.”
Thibodeau was always obsessive and driven as a coach, and that has served him well. But after being let go in Minnesota, Thibodeau traveled the NBA and sat in on other team’s practices. One of those was Steve Kerr and the Warriors, who have a very different culture and practice philosophy than Thibodeau, much more open and less controlling. Thibs apparently learned from that.
Whatever he’s done, it worked. The Knicks are the surprise story of the league — at 33-27 and winners of eight in a row, they sit as the four seed in the East. If the playoffs started today, New York would host a first-round series. That is a level of improvement nobody saw coming for this team and it has Thibodeau often mentioned in Coach of the Year discussions. He’s earned that praise.
It part because Thibodeau has grown and improved, just as Rose said.