Start Nate Robinson? Not going to happen. Finish Nate Robinson? We may already be there.

Start Nate Robinson?  Not going to happen.  Finish Nate Robinson?  We may already be there.

Kirk Hinrich plays defense. Kirk Hinrch runs the offense. Kirk Hinrich has the lowest PER on the team of any player who's played more than 25 minutes of basketball. Nate Robinson is a selfish chucker playing hero ball. Nate Robinson has the highest PER on the team of anyone who's played more than 3 minutes of basketball.

The coaching staff certainly had a predisposition of who should be starting before the season began, and Tom Thibodeau has shown in the past that he's not likely to bench a struggling starter just because there's a vastly better option on the bench (Keith Bogans, Rip Hamilton, and Carlos Boozer all say hi).

However, it's time to start looking at this Kirk thing and thinking, this isn't working out the way we'd hoped. I had been a long time supporter of bringing back C.J. Watson over Hinrich, especially given the fact that his contract was less, wouldn't hard cap the team, and was only for one season.

I gradually bought into the koolaid around Kirk when noticing his numbers were significantly down due to injury last season and that he finished the season quite strong. The fact that he was a better leader and potentially better defender made me think that this might work out afterall.

Kirk started off preseason with some game changing plays, but by the end, his shooting numbers were abysmal and all the leadership in the world hasn't allowed them to break anyone down off the dribble. He does do a nice job running the offense and has morphed into a game managing point guard.

Unfortunately, Kirk Hinrich also sports a 31.7% true shooting percentage. That's about 150 points less than where you don't deserve to be in the NBA anymore. It's only three games, and I'm sure his scoring numbers will improve. However, he's not exactly crushing Robinson in the other categories either.

His main advantage is probably in turnovers per minute where his 2.0 is quite respectable given the amount of ball handling he does relative to Nate's 3.5. However, Kirk is largely standing on the perimeter passing the ball while Nate is driving into the late through bodies attempting to set up easy shots for himself and others.

Through three games, Nate Robinson is the only player on the team that looks like he can break down the opposing defense. He's the only player who can create a shot for himself or others. Everyone else is reliant on ball movement, the offensive scheme, or simply taking a highly contested fadeaway jumper.

The Bulls need energy on the court, and Nate Robinson's presently the guy supplying the most of it. I don't expect Nate Robinson to continue rolling with a PER over 20. His 12 assist 7/9 shooting game was an aberration that inflated his numbers and won't likely be repeated soon. Nor is it likely he continues to grab over seven rebounds per 36 minutes.

However, I do expect Nate Robinson to consistently find his way past his defender into the teeth of the defense. The Bulls lack that ability from any other player and unless someone else develops a dribble penetration game in the next few days, the Bulls will need to keep that ability on the court more.

Robinson won't start, and frankly, who cares? The importance of starting is vastly overrated, and the instant the Bulls signed Hinrich any possibility of another player outside of Rose starting ended. They'll stick with Kirk if he finishes the season shooting 30%.

However, Robinson's role looks to grow, and he'll start playing more and more important minutes.

Tom Thibodeau won't change his starters, but he's beyond comfortable changing his finishers, and Nate Robinson looks like he can win a consistent closer role where the better of Hinrich or Hamilton get to play with him rather than having to prove himself to play with one of them.

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    Fun fact: C.J. Watson scored more points in his first game as a Net than Kirk has in his 3 games so far as a Bull this season.

    Now, small sample size I know, and there's obviously more to the game than scoring. Kirk has been marvelous defensively. His defensive rating through the first 3 games is in the low 80s. He's also done a decent job pushing the ball and running the team. But the shooting is so bad it almost mitigates it.

    I applaud Nate's effort and am very pleasantly surprised by it, but if the Bulls are consistently relying on him to play Hero Ball in close games...

  • In reply to Jay Patt:

    The only thing worse than relying on Nate Robinson to play hero ball at the end of the game is relying on pretty much anyone else on the roster to play hero ball.

    The Bulls really struggled with a lack of shot creators after Rose when he was healthy, but without him, they're really stuck. They can always attempt to run the offense, but with no one to break players down off the dribble it will always be a struggle in the half court.

  • Hmmm who could have predicted the PG that can breakdown a D and get to the rim is the one who would be more successful in an offense that demands that? Clearly not the Bulls FO or those idiots would have brought in Jerryd Bayless or Aaron Brooks whom both would be out performing Kirk and signed for less. Instead we get yet another scrappy player with no offense and no ability to create.

    The only thing offensive about the Bulls is the fools in the Front Office.

  • In reply to Chad:

    I agree 100% Chad. Any knowledgeable Bulls knew re-signing Captain Klank was a huge mistake on several levels as you stated.

    The Bucks and their dope of a coach Scott Skiles wanted Hinrich really bad and offered him more money than the Bulls. Trade him ASAP before Hinrich's numbers slide to a point where he couldn't make an NBDL roster.

  • In reply to Chad:

    after Kyle Lowry, who was a hard get, Brooks was my choice, or just keeping Watson and going after Mayo.

  • Doug, was there any word from Thibodeau as to why he had Kirk, Rip, and Boozer on the bench through most of the 4th quarter? I found his closing lineup odd. It was like he forgot we don't have Derrick Rose to carry the offense with a more defense oriented lineup surrounding him.

  • In reply to HINrichPolice:

    That was my question, too.

    The impression I got was that, as Stacey puts it, Nate was too "mouse in the house" for the current bench to catch the Hornets. Thus, the question is why 3 starters weren't competent enough to be put back into the game, given their poor shooting in the earlier quarters.

  • In reply to HINrichPolice:

    He complained about the effort level in the post game, so I presume it's that. Discussed them not getting back on defense fast enough.

  • Kirk Hinrich is the reincarnation of Keith Bogans role......just let him shoot 3s only, even if he hits 33% that is equivalent to shooting 50% on 2s. Limit his shots to 5 per game.

    The Bulls need to get their 3 point shooting going, they were in the top 5 last year. Deng, Hinrich, Belinelli have all been disappointing from the moneyball line, the 14th spot should go to a 3 point shooting wing...I keep on hearing they have interest in chicagoan Quentin Richardson so maybe if he has anything left in the tank he can help a little bit.

  • In reply to Defense-Rebound13:

    Well he's certainly not shooting much now anyway.

  • Hiny will find a way to get off the court. When It happens it will appear as a chance event disguising his 'will-to-retirement'. So, what does this team do when the inevitable happens? Can Teague play a distributor role that limits the effect of his inexperience while maximizing the responsibilities of his veteran teammates? Can they teach the rookie to play high assist low turn over ball while not needing him to score?

  • In reply to 4zen:

    huh? You think Hinrich's just going to fake something to retire? Kind of a stretch there.

  • It's disheartening when DRose went down in the playoffs after not playing all the much last year, the team did good considering that...very good having the best record in the NBA with Thibs barking at the players like always. Then the front office clears out the roster of its bench playes for a non-challenging posture at next season. But it doesn't even remotely come close to being competitent as we didn't even keep CJ who along with Nate could have been a entertaining duo and can put points up quick. I would have liked us to have brought in JR Smith and/or OJ Mayo or Ben Gordon for some instant offense, because we know how horrible we are without creators on the team outside of DRose and not Nate trying to run at the defense and dish out to teamates with the other guys standing around.
    We have DROSE a very special local and respectful Chicago boy who we had unbelieavable luck to get in the draft fall to us out of the sky...and we can't surround him with a winning team such as others are assembling around us like the Heat, Celtics, even Clippers, Lakers, OKC, heck even Pacers, NYK, etc....they are trying to go all in to win and we are waiving the white I quit flag this year! Very sad!

  • 1) Jerryd Bayless (14.5min off the bench, 2 game average) - 5.5pts (.500 3pt%), 4asts, .5rbs, .5blk, 1stl

    (2yrs $3mil per, 2nd year player option)

    2) Aaron Brooks (35min off the bench, 1st game with major minutes) - 11pts (3-7 3pt), 2asts, 5rbs, 1blk, 1stl

    (2yrs $3.3mil per, 2nd year Player Option)

    3) OJ Mayo (31min starting, 3 game average) - 18pts (.437 fg%, .632 3pt%), 3asts, 3.7rbs

    (2yrs $4mil per, 2nd year Player Option)

    4) CJ Watson (28min off the bench, 1 game) - 15pts (3-4 3pt), 1ast, 2rbs, 2blks, 1stl

    (2yrs $1mil per, 2nd year Player Option)

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    Am I the only one who thought it looked like Nate thought he was playing by himself on Saturday night? Honestly I can see why the other players didn't play with much energy - they probably weren't going to get the ball anyway. I can't believe that Thibs will allow the ball hogging to continue - that is NOT Bull's basketball. Get well soon Derrick - we REALLY miss you.

  • In reply to Paulette Hoskins:

    Paulette, Nate is a chucker and his reputation precedes him. However, the offense as a whole looked terrible so your idea of Bulls basketball died a slow death with every missed shot. No player, save for Bellinelli early in the game, was making their shots open or contested. Nate was trying to create shots and opportunities for teammates. He's the only one on this team that has that ability, sadly. He missed his fair share, but his teammates missed a lot more too. Don't forget, Thibs gives his PGs a LOT of leeway. I.e. JL3 last year.

  • In reply to Paulette Hoskins:

    Maybe he got used to it watching CJ and Lucas all last season ;)

    I think the Thibodeau offense is based around the PG dominating the ball and getting dribble penetration.

  • Hoops Hype list of available free agents:

    POINT GUARDS: Gilbert Arenas, Carlos Arroyo, Mike Bibby, Earl Boykins, Anthony Carter, Sherron Collins, Antonio Daniels, Jonny Flynn, Courtney Fortson, Sundiata Gaines, Vernon Hamilton, Mike James, Armon Johnson, Shaun Livingston, Brian Morrison, Chris Quinn, Anthony Roberson and Walker Russell.

    SHOOTING GUARDS: Blake Ahearn, Antonio Anderson, Kelenna Azubuike, Rodney Carney, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Dion Dowell, Andre Emmett, Maurice Evans, Christian Eyenga, Andrew Goudelock, Eddie House, Larry Hughes, Marko Jaric, Othyus Jeffers, Trey Johnson, Tarence Kinsey, Dwight Lewis, Travis Leslie, Shelvin Mack, Dwayne Mitchell, Ronald Murray, Michael Redd, Quentin Richardson, Quinton Ross, Xavier Silas, Chris Smith, Jermaine Taylor, Dar Tucker, Willie Warren, Kyle Weaver, Delonte West and Terrence Williams.

    SMALL FORWARDS: Jeff Adrien, James Anderson, Renaldo Balkman, Derryck Byars, Da'Sean Butler, Gary Forbes, Ryan Gomes, Donte Greene, Mike Harris, Lazar Hayward, Damion James, JaJuan Johnson, Jason Kapono, DJ Kennedy, Adam Morrison, Jamario Moon, Larry Owens, Bobby Simmons, Alando Tucker, Bill Walker and Shawne Williams.

    POWER FORWARDS: Keith Benson, Jon Brockman, Derrick Brown, Brian Cardinal, Brian Cook, Josh Davis, Ike Diogu, Dennis Horner, Juwan Howard, Darnell Jackson, Kevin Jones, Solomon Jones, Antonio McDyess, Mikki Moore, Magnum Rolle, Jamal Sampson, Walter Sharpe, DaJuan Summers, Etan Thomas, Jordan Williams, Sean Williams and Chris Wright.

    CENTERS: Chris Andersen, Tony Battie, Brian Butch, Jarron Collins, Marcus Cousin, Eddy Curry, Erick Dampier, Jordan Eglseder, Jarrid Famous, Kyrylo Fesenko, Dan Gadzuric, Mickell Gladness, Chris Hunter, Chris Johnson, Dwayne Jones, Jerome Jordan, Jamaal Magloire, Brad Miller, Randolph Morris, Hamady Ndiaye, Greg Oden, Jarvis Varnado, Ben Wallace and Hassan Whiteside.

  • In reply to smiley:

    There's a whole lot of bad on that list.

  • Carlos Arroyo has done good in international play for PR. I hope we bring in a pure PG or better yet a good ball handling combo guard when we can later next week from what I hear we can bring in a player after the 3rd week of this month.

    Delonte West has mental problems no doubt but can put up some points quick and is a PG/SG.

    Even crazy Agent Zero "Gilbert Arenas" is looking for a job believe it or not and is auditioning for Yao's China team I hear currently.

    We are in trouble and things are looking to get ugly if our only guard are: Kirk, RIP, Nate, Bellinni, Teague. We have way too much injury risk with our starting 5 and not much backups after that!

  • I have always thought Delonte West was a solid player and I think I have read that most his former teamates like him so I don't think his issues are attitude releated. He would be a better fit than Klank IMO.

    RIP is the one that when he gets hurt its going to suck. Bellineli hasn't been very good and Jimmy Butler or Klank aren't going to give you much of anything on the offensive end. A SG implies one who plays the position should be able to shoot... Just saying.

  • I've got nothing against Nate playing - he pretty much has to, given Teague isn't even a D-league quality player yet and Kirk's been predictably abysmal offensively.

    What I do have something against is giving him the ball and having everyone else just stand around and watch. Is that the best we can do? Isn't Thibs supposed to be one of the best coaches in the NBA? Can't he stick a boot up someone's ass and get them to maybe try moving? Setting screens? I know the Bulls don't have the most talented bunch of offensive players but there's no excuse to not even be trying to run something.

  • Nate Robinson's the answer? Is that why he's been on so many teams?

  • What do you guys think about Kenyon Martin for the league min? He's got to be better than Nazr. Thats all i've got right now. Nazr looks like a horrible signing so far, I don't think he can contribute at all at this stage of his career.

  • In reply to KingOfCrumbs:

    Hinrich, VladRad, Nazr and Belinelli were all TERRIBLE signings. Nazr can't even run (just watch him in transition). Hinrich is shooting 26% after 3 games. VladRad can't even get in the rotation. Belinelli looks out of shape (watch how much slower and softer he runs off screens compared to what Korver did last year).

    Supposedly the reason Kenyon Martin is still a free agent is because he won't sign for the veteran minimum. And because the Bulls are hard capped the best they can do is a dollar for dollar trade.

  • One loss and this is what we get? These comments are kind of dumb. Are we really complaining about the pass-first point guard who plays more defense than offense? How about the guys who are actually paid to score? Hinrich was never meant to be the long-term starter and anybody who is expecting him to be a high volume scorer should be reminded that this isn't 2006.

    Management did the right thing by bringing in Hinrich. They wanted a solid vet who wouldn't quit when this season inevitably drags on. Management knew that this was a lost season. They'd like to make the playoffs if possible, but they are under no illusions that this team is a contender.

    Thibs is already playing Robinson down the stretch, so everybody should relax and remember that until Rose is healthy, this team isn't going anywhere fast.

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