Kirk Hinrich is a solid role player for the Chicago Bulls.
Stars garner most of the attention during the NBA playoffs, but don’t forget about the X-factors. An X-factor is an overlooked player who’s capable of stepping up at any time in order to help their team out.
Who are those valuable role players for the Chicago Bulls?
Chicago is led by the well-known trio of Derrick Rose (if he returns this season), Luol Deng and Joakim Noah. A healthy Rose is one of the game’s most unstoppable scorers, Deng is simply a lockdown defender and Noah is arguably the ultimate all-around center on the planet.
However, if the team wants to make a lot of noise in the postseason this year, it’s imperative that guys like Taj Gibson and Kirk Hinrich emerge and lend a helping hand.
Here are the Bulls’ five biggest X-factors.
Signing Marco Belinelli during the offseason was an excellent move by Bulls management.
Whether backing up Richard Hamilton or playing in the starting lineup, the 6’5” Italian has done an admirable job at the shooting guard spot.
Belinelli possesses the ability to handle the ball as well as create his own shot. Speaking of shots, he has definitely come through in the clutch a few times as a Bull.
The video above shows his huge overtime bucket against the Boston Celtics, one of his three game-winners this season.
Don’t be surprised to see another Belinelli game-winner or two during the playoffs, as he bails out his mates.
Acquiring Marco Belinelli was a great move and so was the decision to bring Nate Robinson to town.
Robinson doesn’t play first-class defense by any stretch of the imagination.
Yet, he does provide instant energy and offense off the bench for the Bulls, something he has done throughout his debut season in the Windy City.
He is Chicago’s third-leading scorer behind Luol Deng and Carlos Boozer and serves as the team’s most dangerous threat from downtown. Robinson has knocked down a team-high 128 three-pointers this year.
Apparently, Bulls swingman Jimmy Butler believes Robinson is an X-factor (via the Chicago Sun-Times).
Nate — he’s the key to this team. The offense that he brings, the way he can easily shift the momentum of the game. That’s big on any team, and Nate’s done that for us.
No doubt about it, the Bulls are going to need Robinson’s scoring, especially if Derrick Rose doesn’t return to the court.
This was supposed to be a breakout season for Taj Gibson, as he emerged as a serious Sixth Man of the Year candidate. However, that hasn’t been the case.
Gibson, though, is still one of the Bulls’ top reserves and has contributed to the team’s success.
After Gibson went down with an injury earlier this season, Nate Robinson briefly described his teammate (via the Chicago Tribune).
He’s our X-factor. He’s our garbage man who comes in and picks up all the garbage on the court. He plays hard. We’re going to miss that.
Robinson’s comments were on point. Gibson is truly a garbage man-type player. He hustles, brings energy off the bench, plays great D and crashes the boards.
He’s the perfect X-factor.
The Bulls brought in Kirk Hinrich to replace Derrick Rose as the starting point guard.
Unfortunately, he has had an injury-plagued season, missing 22 games of action.
When Hinrich is in action, he serves as a solid perimeter defender, making him a favorite of Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, of course.
Captain Kirk can come up big from downtown on occasion. He knocked down six of his seven three-point attempts versus the Golden State Warriors back in January. And he shot 4-of-five against the New York Knicks a month prior.
A healthy Hinrich could help the Bulls immensely during the postseason, either as a starter or a backup for Derrick Rose.
Jimmy Butler rarely touched the floor last season as a rookie, averaging a measly 8.5 minutes per contest and appearing in just 42 games.
Oh, what a difference a year makes!
This season, Butler’s playing time has increased dramatically, as he is now one of the Bulls’ most important role players.
Butler brings a lot to the table. He can score, rebound, knock down threes and bring the house down due to his amazing dunking ability.
Every playoff team needs a stellar defender, and that’s exactly was Butler is.