Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose has made it clear that he is not in the business of recruiting free agents, pending or otherwise, to come play with him in Chicago.
However, Rose made one exception to this rule last summer as he reached out to then-free agent and former teammate Kirk Hinrich. Rose and Hinrich played together Rose’s first two seasons in the league before Hinrich left for three seasons to play for the Atlanta Hawks and Washington Wizards. Rose encouraged Hinrich to come back to Chicago and join forces with him once again.
The plan was for Hinrich, mainly a defensive specialist, to serve as Rose’s backup and provide the Bulls with quality veteran leadership off of the bench. Unfortunately, Rose ended up missing the entire 2012-13 season, and thus Hinrich was forced to play a larger role than anticipated.
Hinrich struggled a bit with his starting role as he shot a career-worst 37 percent from the field while only averaging 7.7 points per game (the second-lowest average of his career). With Rose back and healthy this year, I expect Hinrich to have a bounce back season in the role which suits him best: backup point guard.
There will be less pressure on Hinrich to score this season, which should result in him taking fewer contested shots and shooting at a better percentage from the field.
In a recent interview, Hinrich said that he is excited for the season to begin and to have another opportunity to play with Rose while they are both at full strength. Rose was not the only Chicago guard who struggled with a grueling injury last year, as Hinrich also missed the entire second round of Chicago’s playoff series against the Miami Heat after injuring his calf in round one.
With a healthy Rose and Hinrich moving back to his original role as backup guard, Chicago suddenly has great depth.
The Bulls are very fortunate to be able to bring Hinrich off of the bench this year as he is a proven veteran who understands how to properly run an offense. Over the past few seasons, Chicago has had to count on point guards with a shoot-first mentality such as Nate Robinson and John Lucas III to play the role of backup point guard.
Although these players were capable of going on offensive tears at times, they also struggled to move the ball and get their teammates involved, which is something that Hinrich is more than capable of doing.
Hinrich, alongside Mike Dunleavy Jr. and Taj Gibson, will be anchoring Chicago’s bench this season. They will be responsible for preserving leads and keeping the Bulls in close games while the starters are getting much-needed rest. This is a role that Hinrich will excel in, and is a role that best allows him to contribute to what should be another winning season in Chicago.
I expect Hinrich to improve upon some of his numbers from last year as he takes on the role of backup point guard: a new role that both he and the team will benefit from.
Jon Keller is a writer for rantsports.com. Follow him on Twitter @jkell2005.