(670 The Score) One of the many traits that Bulls executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas was looking for in a new coach was a strong track record in player development.
Coming off a 22-43 campaign that was shortened by the pandemic, the Bulls remain stuck in neutral in their rebuilding process. What they do have is some promising young talent that hasn’t developed well enough or coalesced yet. In hiring Billy Donovan on Tuesday as the franchise’s 21st coach, the Bulls believe they’ve found someone who can play a leading role in connecting with and fostering the growth of youngsters like Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen, Wendell Carter Jr. and Coby White.
And to Donovan, development means more than improving players’ on-court skills. It means taking a holistic approach to the needs of the individual and team.
“It is a very, very broad concept,” Donovan said on the Mully & Haugh Show on Friday morning. “And I think a lot of times when people say ‘player development,’ they think it’s just like, ‘OK, you go on the court and work with a guy.’ Or you watch film with a guy. You can do all those things. I think it’s a partnership from this perspective. If you’ve got a player that’s really, really eager to improve and get better, I think you’re starting at a great point. The internal drive for a guy to want to be great – and what that entails is how they sleep, how they eat, how they rest, what are their work habits, what is their consistency and developing those things.”
Donovan then elaborated on how he views player development through a team concept rather than an individual prism.
“If you’ve got a player who says he wants to be a great player and he has the potential but he’s not really willing to put in that kind of focus and that kind of concentration, it’s really, really hard to develop a player,” Donovan said. “So I think you want to have guys that have internal drive, the competitive (drive) to be really, really good. Once you have that, you want to put the resources in place to help the player. The other of part of that too is I think player development has become very, very individualized, where it’s a specific player working on a specific set of skills. And that is a part of it. But how does the player fit into playing with the other four guys on the court? How do the other four players make him better? How does he make the other four players better? How do they work together? Because everybody is going to have a role to fill, and I think you have opportunities to be a star in your role. But the development piece is hopefully the group and the way you’re playing stylistically is putting that player in a position to do what he does well. And it’s a pretty extensive process. It doesn’t happen overnight. Every player I think develops and evolves at a different rate.”