Chicago Bulls guard Richard Hamilton was a risky signing heading into the 2011-12 NBA season, with many questioning his durability and declining skills. Hamilton did nothing to silence his doubters, appearing in only 28 games while plagued with injuries in his inaugural campaign with the Bulls.
In 2013, the Bulls will need Hamilton to remain healthy to pick up the offensive slack with Derrick Rose out for the majority of the season. With a very thin frontcourt consisting of past-their-prime veterans and one unproven rookie, Hamilton would be a huge asset on the offensive end if he can remain healthy.
While Hamilton was sidelined for much of the previous season, the offense showed flashes of brilliance when he was hitting shots. The former Piston guard shakes up the offense with frantic baseline runs and curls around screens that open up the floor for other Chicago scorers.
While Hamilton can help the offense, he will need to be able to gain back some of his production from previous seasons. The 34-year-old had a tough time getting into a rhythm due to all of the injuries, averaging only 11 points per game, the lowest total since his rookie campaign. The low total could also be due to a lack of shots, which shouldn’t be a problem this season because of the lack of offense on the Bulls roster.
While Hamilton’s field goal percentage was a tick above his career average, the guard ceased getting to the charity stripe, averaging only 1.3 free throws per game. His assist totals were also down from his career average, which will need to change in an offense without a true facilitator. Chicago will depend on solid passing from almost every spot on the floor, which will play well into the skill sets of big men Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer, who are both above average passers for their positions.
Hamilton’s seasons and skills depend solely on one thing: health. And looking at his career, injuries show an alarming trend. Hamilton’s last five seasons games played: 72, 67, 46, 55, and 28. Those aren’t encouraging totals for someone who is supposed to be in the starting lineup and provide a scoring punch.
If Hamilton can avoid another injury-plagued season, I expect his scoring total to rise significantly from a lackluster 2011-12 season. Due to the nature of the Chicago rotation, I also believe an uptick in assists could be in the cards for the veteran guard.
Projections: 65 games, 25 minutes, 14 PPG, 1.5 RPG, 3.7 AST.
Zach Mink covers the Chicago Bulls for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @zachmink12 for more news and analysis.