Kirk Hinrich is 31 years old, and in the sixth game of the season against the Minnesota Timberwolves he went down with an injury to his hip. He missed the next game against the Boston Celtics but made it into the lineup against the Phoenix Suns last night.
We are only eight games into the season and Hinrich has already shown that he is fragile. Yes, he only missed one game but it’s not just about the games he missed; it’s also about the numbers he is putting up when he does play.
The Chicago Bulls brought in Hinrich over the summer in a desperate search for a valuable, veteran point guard, and they got one. But they also got a player who is on the wrong side of 30 and prone to injuries. Unfortunately for Chicago, Hinrich cannot afford to miss games.
His leadership is not the only thing he brings to this team. In fact, it’s more of his defense that the team will miss the more games he misses. Hinrich is a solid defender, more-so than both Nate Robinson and Marquis Teague combined. So when Hinrich is on the bench in street clothes, the Bulls are going to have problems on the defensive end of the ball.
There may be a silver lining here, though. When Hinrich is out for a game or two it allows backup point guard Robinson to start and third option guard Teague to become the second option. Chicago has always revolved around a strong second unit and having the guards spend significant time playing different roles will allow them – as well as the team- to become deeper and stronger off the bench. But the question is whether or not this is going to continue to happen.
Is Hinrich going to miss a game or two every few games? No one can be certain. We all hope the answer is no but were not the ones on the court running up and down the floor. Hinrich is averaging 27 minutes per game so it is likely that it could happen. The hip is an area of the body prone to being re-injured the more it is used, and by averaging more than half the game on the floor, it is not only being worked it’s being worked hard.
Coach Tom Thibodeau has made it clear that he is confident with Hinrich’s health, as well as Robinson’s ability to handle the role as the starting point guard. But in the end, Hinrich was brought in for a specific reason- a reason that neither Robinson or Teague has- and the fact that eight games in he has already suffered an injury is not a good sign.
Chicago wants Hinrich to be the point guard for the season, they want him running the floor and calling the plays. But with his age, coupled with his knack for injuries (he injured his hamstring as well as his shoulder with the Atlanta Hawks) it might be smart for the Bulls to re-evaluate Hinrich’s role as well as the minutes he is playing. It would make more sense to use him a little less this early in the season and have him healthy for later rather than not have him when they need him most.