Doesn’t it seem like some role players are just meant to play on the teams they play for? It was always weird seeing Derek Fisher out of a Lakers jersey, Bruce Bowen seemed like he was born a Spur, etc. The case is the same with Kirk Hinrich and the Chicago Bulls.
I’m not saying that Hinrich is as good as those two players; they were important players on multiple championship teams. But to an extent, it seems like Hinrich was just meant to be a Bull. The few years he spent away from Chicago, in Washington and Atlanta, seemed like a temporary vacation from his true home at the United Center.
Kirk Hinrich is the type of player that any team can use and would like to have. It’s hard to believe he’s been in the NBA for 10 years now, and he is no longer the starting-caliber point guard who averaged, at his best, 16.6 points and 6.3 assists per game in 2006-07. His numbers came out to 7.7 points and 5.3 assists per game last year, and he shot the worst percentage of his career at just 37 percent.
Hinrich was probably asked to do too much as the starter for much of last season, but his role in this upcoming season will, health-willing, be perfect for his skillset. Hinrich has always been a bit of a do-it-all with his combination of shooting, passing, ball-handling, and defensive tenacity.
Like a few other Bulls players, like Luol Deng, Joakim Noah, and Taj Gibson, Hinrich’s value and contributions to the team come from defense as much, if not more so, than from offense. Hinrich registered a solid individual defensive rating of 105 last season, and his ability to cover point guards and shooting guards, at 6-foot-3, gives Tom Thibodeau lineup flexibility and the assurance that the opponent’s best backcourt player will be covered. Over the years, Hinrich has notably pestered Dwyane Wade, and last year played good defense on Deron Williams in the playoffs (until he went out with an injury).
Offensively, Hinrich will bring a similar philosophy: a little bit of everything. Some ballhandling in relief of Derrick Rose, some pretty reliable outside shooting, good decision making on when to pass and shoot, but nothing spectacular. He can slide over the shooting guard position with Rose in the lineup as part of a smaller lineup, and can handle point guard duties to give Rose a rest.
He’s got basically everything you would want in a role player. Versatility, shooting, defensive tenacity, great effort, and low maintenance. He’s about the glue-iest glue guy you could have in the league, and Tom Thibodeau must love it. He’s another piece to a Bulls’ puzzle that values the types of attributes he brings to the table; a puzzle that helps the team become greater than the sum of its parts.