Now that the Bulls have clinched a playoff spot, all that is left is to find out what seed they end up with. Whoever they play, they would probably be underdogs. Even if they have home court advantage in the first round against, let’s say, the Brooklyn Nets, a lot of so-called experts expect the Bulls to have a hard time. The Bulls disagree, and one player who can help present the Bulls’ case is Kirk Hinrich.
Hinrich is feeling something he hasn’t felt for quite some time-health. He has missed 20 or more games every season since 2011, except this season. He has played 64 games this season after playing just 60 games all of last season.
As a result of Hinrich being healthy, he has improved his shooting. In the first half of the season, when he had some of his bumps and bruises, he shot 36.4% from the field and 28.8% from beyond the 3-point arc. Since the All Star break, when he’s been pretty healthy, those numbers jump up to 44.3% from the field and a whopping 49.2% from the 3-point arc.
A healthy Kirk Hinrich will be critical for the Bulls to have any playoff success. On the court, he is an extension of coach Tom Thibodeau. The offense runs smoother (or as smooth as it can considering the lack of scorers), and his suffocating defense sets the tone for the others.
In the playoffs, scoring comes at a premium. The defenses tighten up, and every basket made is earned. The Bulls are offensively challenged already, so having someone who can run the offense and make baskets on a consistent basis would be helpful. A healthy Hinrich helps with that.
Hinrich’s leadership would also be great for the Bulls. Last season, even though Hinrich missed the final three games of the Nets series, he came up big after the Bulls dropped the first game, helping the team win the next three, and he kept the Bulls alive in that thrilling triple overtime Game 4, playing 59 1/2 minutes.
Thibodeau is appreciative of what Hinrich gives the team. “(S)ometimes things aren’t perfect, but if your ball pressure is great, your effort’s great…and you don’t quit on a play, something good can transpire. And oftentimes, you see a guy hustling back and the blind pass is thrown to the wing, and that guy steals it and then he turns around, and goes down and instead of giving up an easy bucket, you’re getting the easy bucket down on the other end. Those things are huge, okay? And the more things that you can do like that, it enhances your chances of winning. So that’s why you have to look for those characteristics in players. That’s what makes Kirk so good.”
Bulls fans need to take in this run by Hinrich. His contract is up at the end of the season, and it is unlikely that the Bulls will bring him back. With Derrick Rose coming back and DJ Augustin playing the way he is, it doesn’t bode well for Hinrich returning. Bulls nation can soak in what he has done for this organization and thank the good captain for his service.