Tom Thibodeau, head coach of the New York Knicks, is often labeled as a defensive-minded coach. However, he disagrees with this label and asserts that he considers himself a basketball coach who strives to excel in all aspects of the game.
Thibodeau acknowledges that people often pigeonhole coaches into specific categories, such as offensive or defensive coach, but he believes that it is essential to be versatile and work on all aspects of the game.
Thibodeau’s Knicks team is currently on a six-game winning streak, averaging 120.7 points per game and shooting 38 percent from beyond the arc. They also rank sixth in the NBA in offensive rating this season.
Thibodeau has a track record of coaching teams that perform well offensively, with his 2011-12 Bulls and 2017-18 Timberwolves both finishing in the top five in the league in offensive rating.
Thibodeau believes that having a good understanding of defense can help with offensive strategy and player development. His coaching has been credited with developing players such as Joakim Noah, Luol Deng, Jimmy Butler, Karl-Anthony Towns, and Julius Randle into first-time All-Stars.
Derrick Rose also became the youngest MVP in NBA history under Thibodeau’s tutelage in 2010-11, and both Butler and Randle were named the league’s Most Improved Player while coached by him. Knicks point guard Jalen Brunson may be a finalist for that award this season, along with the Jazz’s Lauri Markkanen and the Thunder’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
The Knicks recently signed Duane Washington Jr. to a two-way contract. The 22-year-old Ohio State product was waived by the Suns on Feb. 1 after averaging 7.9 points and 2.0 assists in 31 appearances (two starts) with Phoenix this season. In December, he had a 26-point, seven-assist game.