Chicago Bulls: Richard Hamilton Finding His Groove at the Right Time

James DavisAnalyst IApril 19, 2012

CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 10:  Richard Hamilton #32 of the Chicago Bulls moves against Baron Davis #85 of the New York Knicks at the United Center on April 10, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls defeated the Knicks 98-86. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Chicago Bulls' season has spanned 62 of the scheduled 66 games so far, and of those games, Richard Hamilton has played in only 24 of them.

Chicago’s answer to last season’s nonexistent offensive production at the shooting guard position only brought more questions, as Hamilton suffered injury after injury.

Even though the acquisition was geared more towards helping the Bulls make a deeper playoff push, it appeared that Hamilton would not stay healthy long enough to even make it to the postseason. One pulled groin, a bruised thigh and injured shoulder later, Hamilton has played in eight consecutive games, his longest streak of the season.

Head coach Tom Thibodeau has been cautious with his veteran guard, limiting his playing time to under 25 minutes a game, with the exception of their recent contest against the Washington Wizards.

Hamilton has lead Chicago in scoring the past two games and appears to be back into a regular rhythm. Given his current active streak and improving offensive contributions, is it safe to say that the Hamilton the Bulls were hoping for this season has finally arrived?

Since his fifth and hopefully final return, Hamilton has averaged 13.3 points and 3.3 assists per game; he has also scored in double figures the past three games, including back-to-back 22 point efforts.

Watching him play, it would seem as if Hamilton has finally conquered his season-long battle against sudden onset fragility. He’s the same player of old in a way, constantly running off of screens and changing direction on a dime while consistently knocking down his mid-range jumper

What’s even more important, Hamilton is doing all of this as the Bulls head into the postseason, possibly as the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference for the second consecutive season. This bodes well for Chicago, because other things have not been so positive as of late.

All-Stars Derrick Rose and Luol Deng are back on the day-to-day injury list, and the team is only 3-2 over their last five games.

Top-tier teams would like to be in some kind of winning rhythm going into the playoffs, and Chicago has had a hard time finding theirs. Hamilton’s increasingly improving play gives fans something to be optimistic about while the Bulls work out their end-of-season kinks.

At the beginning of the season, Hamilton’s signing seemed like a solid decision, but all of that changed as the wear and tear of this no-rest schedule started to set in. But now, it looks like Chicago’s gamble is poised to pay off in a big way.