Last offseason, the Chicago Bulls brought in former point guard Kirk Hinrich on a new two-year contract to start in the absence of Derrick Rose. This season, Hinrich's statistics have been exceedingly poor. He is averaging 7.0 points per game, which is second to last among full-time starting point guards, and his 10.79 Player Efficiency Rating is 309th in the NBA.
Regardless of the stats, the Bulls are 5-9 in games that Kirk Hinrich has missed, and 27-14 in games he has played. So the question arises, even though Hinrich's stats are painfully mediocre, why are the Bulls better with him on the floor?
The answer has more to do with what the Bulls lack than what Hinrich provides. At point guard, the Bulls have four players under contract: Derrick Rose, Hinrich, Nate Robinson and Marquis Teague. Of course, Derrick Rose remains sidelined with his ACL injury for now, so that leaves Hinrich, Robinson and Teague.
Nate Robinson is a very valuable piece, but he is not necessarily what you want as your starting point guard. He's a score-first guard who is in his element as a dynamic sixth man off the bench. When he is inserted into the starting lineup, Robinson has been known to struggle both offensively and defensively.
Defensively, Robinson is just flat out undersized at 5'9". Offensively, he tends to over-dribble and lead bad offensive possessions, which the Bulls cannot afford.
In addition, Marquis Teague is absolutely not ready to be a contributor today. When he's on the court, he looks lost, and has shown no ability at all to finish around the rim or shoot a jumper. He also has a Player Efficiency Rating of 6.51, which is 410th in the league. Teague should develop, but he is not even a passable NBA player at the moment.
Kirk Hinrich is what both of these players are not. He is a committed defender, even if his actual ability is often overhyped. He also has some ability as a spot-up three point shooter. More than anything else though, Hinrich gets the offense moving. On a team with no true scoring option, ball movement is by far the most important thing offensively.
When Derrick Rose comes back, Hinrich's value to the team will be greatly reduced. However until that point, the Chicago Bulls are greatly benefited by having him start at point guard.
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