Unfortunately for the Chicago Bulls, it seems the point guard position is going to be a big problem all year. With Derrick Rose likely out for the first half of the season, the Bulls brought back fan-favorite Kirk Hinrich.
It was the hope that he’d be healthy while Rose was out, but Hinrich has himself gotten injured twice this preseason. The most recent injury came earlier this week with a groin strain, and Hinrich will sit until the regular season starts… hopefully.
Even if Rose comes back this year, what are the chances of him truly being at 100 percent? The team can take every safety and precaution during his rehab to get him to that level, but what also has to be realized is that this is a very difficult injury to fully bounce back from.
That means the Bulls are going the whole year without a truly strong point guard. Now, everyone in the city likes Hinrich, but he can’t be that dagger to other teams that Rose was. Hinrich, with his sometimes sporadic shooting, doesn’t as easily get into a rhythm on the offensive side of the court.
And now with a couple of injuries in a short time frame, what does this mean for the Bulls’ bench? As we look at other options for the Bulls, things don’t look too promising after Hinrich.
Jimmy Butler, the only other guard besides Rip Hamilton to be held over from last year, comes in still needing to learn a lot about the game. He needs to be much more vocal on the court.
Granted, he’s still young, but with him stepping into the roles which were filled by Ronnie Brewer and, potentially, Rose last season, he needs to grow a little bit faster to try and meet some of those expectations. Newly acquired Nate Robinson, who has been backing up Hinrich so far this preseason, would be the next guess.
However, as we’ve seen during this preseason, he has been a bit of a ball hog. Also, Robinson has never exactly been the leading type. While he can be a spark off the bench, he’s never consistently started, and his career average of just under 3 assists per game is telling.
That’s the main problem once you get past Rose and Hinrich; who else can be a viable option to lead the team? Last year we saw Rose getting the team hyped up all the time.
While his off-court demeanor is quiet, on the floor we continuously saw him being vocal, getting in his teammates faces and, most importantly, keeping the offense in a consistent rhythm the whole game. Veterans like Luol Deng and Hamilton need to do their best to emulate this whenever possible.
As we look to last year, C.J. Watson was an excellent backup to Rose. The team trusted him and he meshed well with them, running the offense almost as well as Rose.
We also learned that John Lucas III could get the offense going. When he would come in the game, he was obviously a man on a mission. He was out to prove himself to the organization and his teammates.
Granted, he too was known to hold on to the ball for too long, but he earned the respect of his teammates very quickly during important stretches of the season. It’s possible for that to happen again this year if the players listed above push themselves to their limits and play with urgency.
This is certainly going to be more of a struggle, and could ultimately be the downfall of the Bulls this year. If Hinrich isn’t healthy, the team is in for a world of hurt.
The only remedy is for the new veterans, like Robinson, to take charge and lead the younger players on the court night in and night out. The Bulls won’t be getting a superstar like Rose for at least the first half, but having effective leaders that push themselves just as hard as they push their teammates will certainly give the team a fighting chance in the East this year.
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