Yes, Thibodeau’s stuff works. The top defensive assistant in Boston, he was the architect of the Celtics’ system that won a title in 2008 and has largely stymied opponents ever since. In fact, you can argue that Thibodeau owns the top two defenses in the game — the Bulls are first in defensive efficiency, and the Celtics are second.
Before coming to Boston, Thibodeau was Jeff Van Gundy’s defensive guru in Houston, where he posted similarly gaudy defensive stats despite some teams that appear to be rather modestly talented in that department.
I thought it was amazing that Thibodeau didn’t immediately get a head coaching offer after that first season in Boston. His success in Houston you could have attributed to this or that, but when he was able to immediately reproduce it in Boston it seemed clear that he was on to something. We know that NBA players are pretty consistent year-to-year in their box score production, so if you’re looking for coaches to improve something the defense, where the box score sheds the least light, is the place to look.