The Chicago Bulls' point guard position is getting a big boost in 2013-14 in the form of a former MVP.
Chicago spent the 2012-13 season cycling back and forth between Kirk Hinrich and Nate Robinson at point guard due to a missed season by Derrick Rose.
Hinrich ran the offense very well and made conscious decisions but couldn't score. Robinson, on the other hand, was the opposite in each of those facets.
Rose's return will push Hinrich back to a reserve role, while Marquis Teague will try to crack the rotation as he enters his sophomore season.
I'll start with the second-year player and work up the depth chart, including stat projections for each.
Percentages: 39.4% FG (1.5-of-3.8), 28.5% 3PT (0.2-of-0.7), 70% FT (1.2-of-1.7)
Basic Stats: 12.5 MPG, 4.4 PPG, 1.8 APG, 0.8 RPG, 0.8 TO
After seeing nothing but spot minutes in just 48 regular-season games, the Kentucky product figures to have somewhat of a bigger role during his second year.
Teague had a successful summer-league outing, averaging 18 points and almost five assists per contest. He showed he could run an offense in a fairly efficient manner, but what stood out the most were his speed and the way he attacked the basket.
He also has a lot of upside defensively due to his quickness. If he can have a strong defensive campaign, Tom Thibodeau might be willing to give a few extra minutes.
Teague won't have too many responsibilities with a veteran and a superstar ahead of him on the depth chart. If he can pick his spots right, however, he could turn into a very solid contributor off the bench, especially in the coming years when he'll be the primary backup.
Percentages: 43.7% FG (2.1-of-4.8), 40.7% 3PT (1.1-of-2.7), 70.5% FT (1.2-of-1.7)
Basic Stats: 22.3 MPG, 6.5 PPG, 4.6 APG, 2.3 RPG, 1.4 TO
With Rose back, Hinrich won't be playing 29 minutes per game like last season. He'll still get 20 minutes, though, just not primarily as a point guard.
Hinrich can play 2-guard and sometimes even small forward—defensively, at least. And while his shot can come into scrutiny at times, he shot fairly well last season from downtown, posting the fourth-best percentage of his 10-year career.
If Hinrich has a similar year, the Bulls will benefit on both ends of the floor.
He can fill in for Jimmy Butler; that way the Bulls keep a defensive presence on the court. He can also run the offense on certain possessions while Rose—or Teague—uses his quickness to get into the paint for an easy basket.
Chicago has a lot of versatility on its roster, and Hinrich will be one of the main pieces to make some of their lineup possibilities work.
Percentages: 49.3% FG (8.1-of-16.4), 36.3% 3PT (1.6-of-4.4), 83.6% FT (5.1-of-6.1)
Basic Stats: 34.4 MPG, 22.9 PPG, 8.6 APG, 3.6 RPG, 2.7 TO
Rose's rehab was the story last season. This season, it will be his performance coming off that recovery.
It will be interesting to see how Thibodeau manages Rose's minutes during the regular season. Will he be conservative the first couple of games? Or will the preseason be enough for Rose to get re-acclimated?
In an upcoming issue of SLAM magazine, the former No. 1 pick talks about the way he's improved physically and how it may help him on the court.
Right now I’m in training, and I’m getting a lot stronger. I gained 10 pounds of muscle...I got a little more strength behind me, so I think going to the hole, taking those shots, I’ll be able to finish a lot stronger this year...I think I’m a lot quicker, a lot more explosive, and I think I’m gonna go this year without that many nagging injuries, just trying to prevent it by stretching and doing all the things I have to do to take care of my body.
If Rose can follow through on all his offseason preparations, then opposing teams should be wary. He was already regarded as one of the league's best finishers, but his weakness was an inconsistent jump shot.
The notion that he could be an even better finisher with a consistent jumper would make him one of the few unstoppable players in the league.
The expectations are high for Rose. He's expected to regain his MVP form from 2011 as well as help lead the franchise to its first NBA Finals since the '90s dynasty.
Chicago has a lot of depth, and point guard might just be their deepest.
Rose is a superstar who will be able to score from just about anywhere on the court as well as set up his teammates on the perimeter and inside the paint.
Hinrich is a savvy vet who can execute an offensive set very well while also providing some three-point shooting. Teague might see a ton of minutes, but he'll have more chances to shine than he did during his rookie campaign.
The Bulls will go as far as their star point guard takes them, making this position the most important, as well. If Rose can show that he hasn't lost a step, Chicago could be around come June.