Nick Knacks

Column: What if… Porter Moser Got the Bulls Job?

Nick Schultz | The PhoenixIt wouldn’t have happened, but Porter Moser’s defensive mindset would’ve been beneficial to the struggling Chicago Bulls.

Dec. 3, the Chicago Bulls announced they’d fired head coach Fred Hoiberg. Hoiberg amassed a 115-155 record in just over three years in Chicago, and associate head coach Jim Boylen is taking over.

I saw this firing coming from a mile away. Alright, you got me, I didn’t entirely see it coming. I at least expected Hoiberg to stick around through the holidays despite carrying a 5-19 record into that fateful meeting with the front office. I hope they at least told him “Merry Christmas.”

It also brought up an interesting “what-if” scenario. It’s one that wouldn’t have been discussed had Loyola not made the Final Four last year, but it’s something I thought about all day after I heard the Hoiberg news.

What would happen if Loyola head coach Porter Moser took the job?

Allow me to preface this by saying this won’t happen for multiple reasons. For starters, Boylen isn’t the interim coach; he’s the full-time head honcho. I also have no context as to whether or not Moser would be interested, nor do I know what the status of his revamped contract is with that sort of thing.

But hypotheticals are fun, right?

For starters, the Bulls would be in a much better place because Moser’s “pace-and-space” system fits perfectly in today’s NBA. As much as I don’t like the Golden State Warriors, they execute it perfectly. It’s a three-point shooter’s game, and Moser would be the perfect choice.

Hoiberg used a similar pace-and-space offense with the Bulls, but his was more of a motion offense, which involves a lot of screens and no player standing in the same place long enough to be defended. Since Hoiberg didn’t get to see his lineup play fully healthy, the jury’s out on whether or not the system would’ve worked with time.

The biggest difference between Moser and Hoiberg is their attention to defense. Hoiberg wasn’t defensively minded, and it showed. Although the NBA is shying away from defense, it doesn’t look good when you allow 113 points per game, which ranks 24th out of the 30 teams.

Moser’s known to “not let the defense dictate the offense” or vice versa — trust me, he says it during almost every press conference. It’s something he learned from his mentor Rick Majerus at Saint Louis University and carried to Loyola when he was hired in 2011. If Moser took over the Bulls, he wouldn’t let them take the court without knowing how to properly play defense.

If the Bulls finally learn how to tank for a top draft pick, could you imagine Moser coaching Duke star Zion Williamson? Or fellow Blue Devil RJ Barrett? Those two are incredible talents, and if the Bulls do this right, they’ll be in a better position to take one of them in the top two of the NBA Draft — depending on the lottery, of course.

But it won’t happen. None of this will. Moser’s not going anywhere as of right now. But you can’t tell me the thought didn’t cross the minds of at least some Loyola fans.

The Bulls aren’t afraid to hire a younger, college coach, either. Hoiberg was previously the head coach at Iowa State University from 2010-15 — where he coached Loyola guard Clayton Custer for a year — before the Bulls hired him. Sure, he had more connections to the Bulls since he played in Chicago from 1999-2003 and he was good friends with Bulls general manager Gar Forman, but the precedent’s set.

If this did happen, it wouldn’t be until after the Bulls’ and Ramblers’ seasons end. Hoiberg was hired three months after the Cyclones’ early exit from the NCAA Tournament in 2015. So fans wouldn’t have to worry for at least another three or four months.

Could Moser handle today’s NBA given the Warriors’ success with pace-and-space? Probably. He’s coached NBA talent in Milton Doyle and Donte Ingram. Will it happen? Probably not.

Are the Bulls in full tank mode? Absolutely. That’ll help what the front office passes off as a “rebuild.” The other part of finding success will be finding stability at head coach.

Moser could be that guy if he wanted it. He won’t, but wouldn’t that be fun?

I certainly think so.

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