Hoiberg Downplays Parker's Comments On Defense

"We’re going to work on it a lot," Fred Hoiberg says.

McNeil & Parkins Show
July 19, 2018 - 2:45 pm
Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg

Kamil Krzaczynski/USA Today Sports

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(670 The Score) Several hours after new Bulls forward Jabari Parker expressed a disdain for defense in an interview on the Bernstein & McKnight Show on Wednesday, coach Fred Hoiberg downplayed the significance of the comments and made clear the team won't be overlooking that end with Parker.

"We're going to work on it," Hoiberg said in an interview with Dan McNeil and Terry Boers on 670 The Score. "We’re going to work on it a lot. That’s going to be team-wide. We’re going to have to make improvements in that area if we’re to have any chance of having a successful season. Listen, you look at the players we’ve got right now. Again, look at Jabari’s physical tools. He’s a big, strong athletic player that we feel can guard multiple positions. So we’re going to work hard on the guys and, again, that’s an area we need to improve."

Asked about his defensive progress earlier, Parker seemed unworried about that end of the floor.

"I just stick to my strengths," Parker said. "Look at everybody in the league. They don’t pay players to play defense. There’s only two people who historically play defense. I’m not going to say that I won’t, but to say that’s a weakness is like saying that’s everybody’s (weakness). Because I’ve scored in the 30s, the 20s on a lot of guys who say they play defense."

Parker kept the same theme up when pressed on whether he's ready to partake in a switch-heavy defense as the Bulls revamp their system.

"Well, if you know the game, you also know everybody’s a pro, right?" Parker said. "You know that certain guys have an average. No matter what you do, they still get that average. So they pay people to score the ball. I would hope that somebody would score the ball on me if they paid them that much. I’m not saying that’s a copout or nothing, but it’s the NBA. We’re professionals. Everybody scores. It’s just the amount of limiting them as much as you can, trying to contain them."

Parker later added, "A better offense wins a championship."

That last point is one Hoiberg himself can agree with, but he also knows the Bulls will struggle if they're inattentive defensively, as they were too often last season. Chicago was 24th out of 30 teams in defensive efficiency in 2017-'18. Parker has struggled as an individual defender as well, with the Bucks' advanced metrics reflecting how they played better defense with him off the floor.

"Listen, we need to get better across the board," Hoiberg said. "A big part of that is defensively. For us, we’ve been studying a lot of different tendencies and a lot of different things, and one thing that I think will be good for the roster the way it is and I think Jabari as well will be some of the things we did look at with our switching in the Summer League. We’ll carry some of that over once everybody gets back in September and once we roll into training camp.

“The biggest thing for us is we need to put a defensive system in play that gives our players the best chance of having a chance to win the game. We’re going to have to have buy-in from everybody on that end. We put a tremendous amount of work in on that end of the floor. We obviously do drills, like all teams do, every day to try to get to a point where you give yourself a chance.

"Now, he brings up points where a lot of times, a good offense does beat a good defense. But the important thing is you try to make it as difficult as possible. We need to do a better job for us of creating shots on the floor which are low-percentage shots (for foes), which is in the mid-range. We gave up too many threes last year. We also gave up too many plays at the rim. I think with the makeup of our group right now, there’s no reason we shouldn’t take a jump in that area. We got a guy we feel can protect the rim as well as anybody in in this last draft class in Wendell. And then with the players we have on the perimeter — and again, we’re going to play Jabari at both forward spots, he’s going to be playing against multi-skilled players. We have to do a great job of trying to make teams take those tough contested twos, knowing at times they’re going to make those."