What a wacky season this has been for the 6'0" point guard. He spent his first 10 games with the Toronto Raptors, serving as the ultimate benchwarmer. Honestly, most fans probably didn’t even realize he was on the roster.
Augustin was waived by Toronto on Dec. 9 in order to complete the Rudy Gay trade. Desperate for point guard help due to the season-ending Derrick Rose injury, the Bulls signed him just a few days later.
He has instantly rejuvenated his career with Chicago, whether starting at the point or backing up veteran Kirk Hinrich.
The Bulls are building around guys like Rose, two-time All-Star center Joakim Noah and talented swingman Jimmy Butler. Augustin needs to be added to that list as well. With that said, why does he deserve to be in the team’s long-term plans? What makes him so special?
Provides Scoring Punch to the Lineup
One of Augustin’s best skills is putting the ball in the hoop. No, he’s not capable of dropping 30 points a night and winning scoring titles like fellow little man Allen Iverson used to do. However, he’s certainly a quality offensive player.
Augustin is currently averaging 13.7 points per game, which is not bad at all for a player who’s making the minimum salary. He has scored at least 18 points on 10 occasions as a Bull, including 28 vs. the Charlotte Bobcats—the team that drafted him ninth overall in 2008.
In that Jan. 25 victory, Augustin did his best Iverson impersonation, scoring 15 during the fourth quarter.
The former University of Texas star also has also a pair of 27-point performances under his belt thus far this season.
Augustin is blessed with speed, quickness and outstanding ball-handling skills, helping him get to the basket easily.
Check this move out against Golden State Warriors guard Jordan Crawford:
Crossover extraordinaire Rose, who was sitting on the Bulls’ bench in street clothes, didn’t look very impressed. However, it was a great example of how Augustin can blow past his defender and score.
Serves as a Long-Range Threat
The Bulls are one of the league's worst outside shooting squads, ranking 27th in three-point percentage (33.5). Only the Boston Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers and Detroit Pistons are shooting worse right now.
Augustin currently leads the team with a three-point percentage of 42.2. Since arriving in Chicago, he has often shot the ball like former Bull Craig Hodges, who won multiple All-Star shootouts back in the day. It must be something to do with the No. 14 jersey.
During the aforementioned Bobcats win, Augustin knocked down six of his 12 long-range attempts.
He has also hit three or more treys in nine other games this season.
Chicago signed Mike Dunleavy last summer, expecting him to be "the man" from beyond the arc. It looks like Augustin has taken that label, though, as Dunleavy has hit only 38 percent of his three-point attempts so far.
Next season, with Rose returning and ESPN's Chris Broussard (h/t ESPNNewYork.com's Ian Begley) reporting that Chicago will likely target Carmelo Anthony in free agency, the Bulls could regain their status as title contenders.
Keeping an outside shooting threat like Augustin would only help the team in its quest for a championship, as he can stretch the opposition's defense.
Perfect Backup for Derrick Rose
Will the Bulls be able to re-sign Augustin, who becomes an unrestricted free agent, this summer? There should be several teams out there that will try to land the former lottery pick following the season.
Last summer, Chicago couldn’t afford to keep Nate Robinson and watched him sign a two-year deal with the Denver Nuggets. This offseason, it’ll have cap space with Deng’s contract off the books and the expected Carlos Boozer waiving.
Signing Augustin to a multi-year deal is a must for the Bulls. Sure, Rose will be back next season, but it’s imperative to possess a solid backup for the 2011 NBA MVP.
Coach Tom Thibodeau will likely reduce Rose’s minutes to help prevent another injury.
Augustin would serve as an insurance policy. He can score, shoot and has a knack for getting his teammates involved—his 5.7 assist average leads the team.
Luckily, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times reports that Augustin wants to remain with the Bulls:
I definitely would like to be here [for the] long term. I would love to be a starter again, but I want to be on a winning team. I want to be in a winning organization. Chicago is definitely those two things. When the summertime comes, that’s when I’m going to have to weigh everything.
Over the past few years, the Bulls have employed a number of good backup point guards like C.J. Watson, John Lucas III and Robinson, all of whom didn't last a long time in Chicago. Hopefully, Augustin will be different.
All stats are from Basketball-Reference.com and accurate as of Feb. 16, 2014.