It seems that Chicago Bulls fans can rejoice with the return of Richard Hamilton. The shooting guard is rumored to return this week from a torn plantar fascia he suffered almost a month ago. But is this really something to rejoice in? The performance of Marco Belinelli says that it isn’t.
Of the two shooters who has won a ring? Hamilton. But of the two shooters who is on the wrong side of 30? That would also be Hamilton. Unless your name is Kobe Bryant then being 34 in a league dominated by young players fresh out of college is not something to consider a positive. Hamilton is old and his numbers show it. But besides a decline in production he is injury prone. His fragility should make it an easy decision to keep him on the bench and reverse his role with that of Belinelli’s. Instead of Belinelli coming off of the bench, Hamilton–in order to keep him rejuvenated and healthy–should.
Belinelli’s production has made it clear that he is ready to reprise his role as a starter and at 26 years of age it is clear that he should be the primary choice to be the starter.
Is it fair to replace Hamilton with Belinelli as a starter with the half-way mark of the season closing in? The answer is yes. Hamilton has shown in the past that he can play well with Derrick Rose and with his return rumored to be in late February it makes sense to keep Hamilton as healthy as possible for the opportunity to play with Rose and in order to keep him fresh for the playoffs.
Hamilton has always been great to watch, but with a injury that experts said were supposed to last a few weeks costing him a month’s time it is clear that he is wearing down. It’s time to rest him, give him reduced minutes as a sixth or seventh man off the bench and prepare him for an increased role in the playoffs. Until then, Belinelli has displayed more confidence and comfortableness in his ability to start for the Bulls and should be allowed to retain his role as the starter.