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Tom Thibodeau is not fan of outside predictions, and those of general managers can now be added to that list.
Yesterday NBA.com released its 11th annual GM survey, a list of 57 questions regarding players, coaches and fans answered by all 30 general managers. Of those questions, 80 percent of respondents selected the Indiana Pacers to win the Central Division, while just 20 percent selected the Bulls.
“Whether it’s praise or criticism, it really doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is what we think, and again I want it to come back to us concentrating on our improvement,” Thibodeau said, “and so if they picked us to win it, would it mean anything more? No. So to me it doesn’t mean anything. I don’t care about that stuff.”
It was a busy offseason for the Pacers, who resigned All-Star center Roy Hibbert and point guard George Hill after a 42-win season a year ago. The team also traded back-up point guard Darren Collison to the Mavericks for center Ian Mahinmi, and signed guards D.J. Augustin and Gerald Green.
Without Derrick Rose for at least half of the season, expectations have been tempered by many outside outlets, but Thibodeau said his team is focused on daily improvement, not predictions.
“If you have the right type of guys, they’re gonna get ready every day, and so that’s all you have to focus in on,” Thibodeau said. “If you start thinking about that stuff you’re not thinking about the stuff that is important, and that takes you away from doing things to the best of your ability. So I don’t want them getting caught up in any of that stuff because it doesn’t mean anything.”
Last year 96.4 percent of general managers selected the Bulls to win the division.
The poll did, however, name the Bulls the top defensive team in the NBA and Thibodeau the best defensive coach in the NBA. Last year Chicago allowed an NBA-best 88.2 points per game and teams made less than 42 percent of their field goals, which ranked second in the league.
Derrick Rose was named the second-best point guard in the NBA behind the Clippers’ Chris Paul; Richard Hamilton was named the second-best player who moves without the ball, behind Miami’s Ray Allen; Taj Gibson received votes as the most likely to break out, and Nikola Mirotic was named the second best international player not in the NBA.