After doing two separate pieces on the shooting guard or ‘two’ and small forward or ‘three’ positions and who would start for the Bulls this season, one jarring conclusion couldn’t be shaken as a result of the findings in those pieces: Kirk Hinrich is going to play more minutes than most of Chicago would prefer. Captain Kirk Hinrich was brought back to the Bulls this offseason re-signing on a two-year deal worth about $6 million total, oh and Hinrich has a player option for next season, which seems a bit excessive.
Not really a terrible dollar amount, but D.J. Augustin signed for nearly the same with the Detroit Pistons, just sayin’. Also it should be mentioned that when Chicago traded Kyle Korver the trade (which coincidentally also brought Hinrich back to Chicago) created a $5.1 million dollar trade exception that ironically was mostly used to re-sign Hinrich this offseason. How’s that for full circle?
Hinrich is at the stage in his career with the Bulls that fans either love him for his grit, his underdog type effort and panache. Or he’s been public enemy number one of the – ‘WHY IS HE STILL IN THE GAME?!’ – crowd in Chicago. Truth be told, Hinrich should fall in-between those two extremes and nestle into a happy medium if all goes according to plan.
See, the past two seasons things haven’t gone according to plan for Hinrich or the Bulls. When Derrick Rose got hurt, the next man up (Hinrich, both instances) was forced into playing a role far too large and one he was not capable of handling. One could argue that the Bulls should have prepared themselves more thoroughly in the event they lost Rose (especially in the second go round), but there’s no suitable alternative when Derrick Rose is plan A, B, and C.
Regardless, Kirk has struggled, posting an identical a player efficiency rating (PER) for the past two seasons at 10.8 (league average is considered 15) and shooting under 40 percent from the field in both years. His forte, defense, was a bright spot for him last year posting the third highest defensive win shares (DWS) of his career at 3.3.
Kirk’s still valuable on defense, and that’s what he brings to the table. Tom Thibodeau will find Hinrich minutes because he can trust him in virtually every circumstance defensively, which probably means we’ll be seeing a lot of Hinrich at the end of games. With guarded irrational confidence, hopefully Hinrich playing at the end of games is only a regular season and/or a half-season trend.
The Bulls’ front office surely didn’t bring Hinrich back to not be part of the rotation, and he’s a fine piece in a rotation as a reserve, but strictly that. Where Hinrich has faltered most in his game is his shooting, making him a liability on the offensive end. Per Basketball Reference, among 61 players last season who took more than 450 field goal attempts (FGA) at more than 15-feet away from the basket, Hinrich ranks 38th sitting at a clip of 38 percent.
Between 3-10 feet Hinrich finished 32 percent of his shots, and 25 percent between 10-16 feet. His average shooting distance last season was from 17.7 feet from the basket, so at least he’s trying to stay away from areas he can’t make a decent percentage of shots at.
All in all, just don’t be surprised to see Kirk getting more action than he probably should because knowing Thibs’ nature – he wants guys on the floor he can trust. Hinrich can be a good backup, but that’s what he needs to be left at and not put into anything more.
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