The Curious Case Of Kirk Hinrich

The Curious Case Of Kirk Hinrich

It's no secret that one area in which both Tom Thibodeau and Gar Forman agree, is regarding Kirk Hinrich and his supposed worth to the franchise. Ironically, the one certain common denominator they have, isn't shared by the fan base. Well, not for the most part anyway.

Hinrich, now 34, is in the late stages of his career. His speed has slowly evaporated, his defensive value is diminishing greatly, and his offense has been MIA for about four years. When describing Hinrich, it's tough to really point out anything he does well enough that warranted playing him 1,500+ minutes so far this season, especially when players such as Tony Snell and Nikola Mirotic have been available all year, even considering their instabilities.

One could point to his ability to handle and pass the ball, but his 1.9:1 assist-to-turnover ratio suggests otherwise. Then there's the flexibility in playing multiple positions, but then again, E'Twaun Moore - and to some extent Snell - could handle those duties without having to stretch minutes for Aaron Brooks or Derrick Rose, thus creating no need for Hinrich.

All right, so then he must be able to shoot right? Not really. He's slumping through career-lows in FG%, 3PT%, FT% and, naturally, TS% (.465). It's taken Hinrich 365 shots to score 360 points this season, making him the least effective player on the Bulls - by far - of anyone having played more than 150 minutes. Sorry, Nazr Mohammed and Cameron Bairstow. You didn't make the cut.

The silver lining here is his lack of efficiency comes on low volume. Except for the fact that having a low-volume non-scorer out there for almost 26 minutes a night is hardly an asset unless said player was capable of making the All-Defensive squad, which is a lifetime away from Hinrich at this point.

Jokes aside, there is one thing Hinrich does better than anyone, which I suspect is what's giving him minutes, and that's playing like a man possessed all the bloody time.

Hinrich, for all his shortcomings, is running away with the "best motor" award for the Bulls this season. Now, trying hard and succeeding are two very different things. Hinrich is frequently falling flat on his face when he tries to get too cute or turn back the clock by making a way-too-slow crossover that were to lead him into a drive. But it's the fact that he keeps getting up, scrubbing mud away from his cheeks, and gets back in there. It's commendable and one could even theorize that is why he's playing the minutes that he is. It's pretty typical of Thibodeau to talk about effort, while underselling the necessity of talent or production, and it's in that point he and management married in the first place. Even when the Bulls weren't the most talented team in the league, they won by constantly sacrificing themselves and their bodies, to playing lock-down defense and chasing after loose balls whenever possible. It was their trademark, their identity even.

But now that the roster is the deepest it's been since the Jordan years, complacency has struck and everyone outside of Hinrich, and possibly Mirotic at this point, has had moments in which laziness took over. Rose, Jimmy Butler, Taj Gibson, Pau Gasol, and Joakim Noah have all more or less acknowledged the issue throughout the year. Thibodeau, likely frustrated beyond belief about this development, could theoretically have chosen to play Hinrich over superior talent, to prove a point. With Hinrich now on a minutes-limit, and Rose returning sometime in the near future, it's going to be interesting to see if his presence made any difference out there over the course of the season. With Snell developing the way he has, likewise with Butler and Mirotic, it's going to be pretty difficult carving out minutes for Hinrich in the playoffs, where playing hard is non-negotiable and Hinrich's possible edge would be nullified.


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  • I figure that the only reason Hinrich has had a job for 2 years is that they know Rose can't go.

    Besides him clanking the iron at an excessive rate, the other difference I noted is that in his first go around, the announcers used to say "how can they call a foul on him for that?" Now he is fouling all the time.

  • A while back I remember seeing a post by a regular contributor detailing why he believed Kirk gets the treatment and playing time that he has.

    Imo, he hit it out of the park with that post. In fact, one of his points were very similar to the article. Hopefully he sees this thread and reposts it.

  • "There were players that I kept too long and played too long because they were committed guys and I like them, that's human nature, every sport has that." -- Dave Wannstedt, former Bears head coach.

  • Klank Chokebrick must die!! Die Klank Die.

    Or better yet hypnotize Tom Thibodeau into thinking Krik Hinrich is "a rookie." Seriously, the notion that Kirk Hinrich embodies an "anti lazy" counter to sagging team efforts belies the mental laziness he shows every time he staggers out on to the court with crazy cross court passes and some of the most boneheaded fouls particularly on three point shooters the NBA has ever seen. I mean after that game snatcher vs the Mavs which Dirk himself had to take note of as "one of the Boneheaded plays of all time" status. And yet even after said moronic f-ck up of the year, he keeps doing it!! Too much.

    Also, with the playoffs looming, some Deep Thoughts: by Jack Handey.

    1) If the playoffs started today the Bulls would be playing the Bucks. Certainly you'd think Chicago would make it past a Bucks team that post trade deadline has gone right down the toilet. If Mirotic can continue his ever emerging star like play of late(March) how far could a Hinrichless team go? "Killl himmm," wicked witch voice from old Wizard of Oz movie. Kidding. A Tonya Harding like pipe wrench to the knee/shin however.. ? OK sort of kidding(volunteers??)

    2) It's Thibs we really need to chloroform anyway. With Snell and Moore helping out and Dunleavy at about 20 minutes per game(overall average more on nights when he's hot) as a sniper high reward/low "dead air space" volume minutes guy. Then you add first and third quarter Gasol with equal parts fourth quarter Mirotic and healthy Noah? Taj plays big in small minutes(Thibs will not be down with that). Might be at least an entertaining series and good fight vs LeBron/Cleveland. Especially if Brooksie can be lower volume shooter and better point guard play balanced player of recent games. Will Butler's regular season numbers(excellence) translate to the post season? Then there's that Derrick Rose fellow everybody never mentions.

    3) Which brings us to this, will Rose return or better question will his "looming" reappearance aka leaving everyone up in the air with vague, non-committal timetables and deadlines cause a media furor that distracts the team? These and other exciting questions await in Bulls Playoff Run 2015.. the Movie!

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    Good piece.
    You're so right about Cap'n Kirk. For all of his slumping stats, he's still worth keeping around due to his willingness to stick to his opponent like a jealous, gold digging woman to a wealthy single man. Just when you think he's worthless, he has a nice complimentary game by hitting key shots, making key steals, and drawing fouls at key moments. He's the ultimate team player. I've been hoping to see a Kirk replacement for 3 yrs, but there he is like hemorrhoids taking up the mins which could be given to E'twaun Moore, or Tony Snell.
    As far as Tony Snell, I'm a fan of his and I really like the stroke of his shot, but it seems like as soon as Jimmy Butler returned back into the lineup Tony Snell has reverted back to his passive ways. The shot clock runs down and instead of shooting the ball Snell looks for Jimmy to do it when Jimmy isn't half the shooter that Snell was drafted to be. His attitude has me raising some doubts on whether he should be inserted into the playoff roster. If all he's going to be is an offensive decoy then why bother with him? Hopefully, someone on the team is in his ear encouraging him to shoot the darn ball, and that the team needs him to be a knock down 3 pt threat from now on.

    Sidenote: If Derrick Rose is able to play in the playoffs, the Bulls should have Derrick come off of the bench, and continue to start Aaron Brooks at PG. It messes up the team continuity being so unsure if Derrick is able to stay on the court for a full game or a full qtr without being carried off to the locker room by two of his teammates, and Derrick's impact is better when he is able to play in spurts between 22- 29 mpg. He can still play at the end of qtrs, halfs and the 4th qtr, but to start him and to ask him to log heavy mins playing lock down defense, and to run the team's offense is probably too much to ask so late in the season.

  • " It's pretty typical of Thibodeau to talk about effort, while underselling the necessity of talent or production"

    This get me thinking. Thibodeau will probably be a much better fit as a college basketball head coach than a nba head coach.

  • In reply to handushk:

    If he really likes it in the area, push him to the DePaul job.

  • As M.C.(Hammer) mentions, sorry, but as you mentioned, starting Aaron Brooks and having Rose come off the bench actually sounds like a good idea to me. Let everybody get into the flow of the game, and then let Derrick come in for a lift with what he does best which is score the ball(in the post). Of course with set in stone Thibs and ultra-conservative politically/perception F.O. in Gar/Pax, it will very probably never happen. An interesting idea though.

  • Side Note: if playoffs started today, the Cleveland LeJame's would be facing jilted lover(Riley) aka the Miami post Heat(les). Would resentments rear their ugly head? "Hassaan chopp!!" Warner Bros. reference befuddling younger audience - viewers discretion be advised. Noteworthy Wade is well, well rested and playing pretty good ball of late heading into first round opener.. Just sayin'. Could be a very entertaining series to watch even if but brief.

  • In reply to RoadWarrior:

    It seems that LeBron has mellowed and matured, and, after all, he was the one who decided to go back to N.E. Ohio; Miami didn't release him. Only question is whether he can get Irving and Love to raise their games.

    If there is any remaining animosity, it is between Wade and the former Mrs. Wade.

  • I don't think Hinrich would be so bad if he was playing as a third string point guard like his contract would suggest. He's not really all that bad in short spurts, but when you play the guy at 25+ minutes a game that's well beyond his abilities. Part of it has to do with Derrick Rose always being injured, and another part of it is Brooks own inconsistencies. At times when Brooks can't score the ball he's utterly useless so I don't think in those instances it's not a bad idea to give him a breather and let Hinrich get some PT in. The problem is that Moore is so much better than Hinrich is now and there really isn't a reason he should get 30 min and Moore DNP.

    Honestly after this season win, lose, or draw I just wanna see Thibs gone. I'm tired of his pathetic rotations and piss poor minute allegations. It's the most basic and easiest concept of coaching. Either he really doesn't get it or is too stubborn and stuck in his ways. I think it's the ladder.

  • In reply to ajaychitown:

    Actually, and unfortunately, Hangdog got the second string pg contract(the room exception) instead of DJ and then Brooks got the 3rd string pg contract.

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    The only value Hinrich has now is veteran leadership/locker room presence. Unfortunately Thibs doesn't realize that. Hinrich should be getting about the same amount of minutes as Mohammed is getting. Snell, Moore and Brooks should be getting the bulk of the PG and other minutes that HInrich is getting. Thibs poor use of his reserves is the primary reason that I think he should be gone. Snell, Mirotic, Moore, McDermott and to some extent Bairstow all deserve more playing time than they have been given this season. I am tired of Thibs bias against young players.

  • In reply to Storytime Edwards:

    Yep, Nazr and Hangdog sitting in a tree(hopefully at the far far end of the bench).

  • With Rose out Hinrich needs to log some minutes as backup PG but my issue is Thibs giving him minutes at SG. There’s no reason for Hinrich and Brooks to be on the floor at the same time with Snell and Moore as healthy options plus now Butler’s back. Give Hinrich a maximum of 15 minutes as Brooks backup and when Rose comes back Kirk grabs a seat next to Nazr and Bairstow.

  • In reply to Zorb:

    Yes, this is the real issue and was not mentioned in the article. In no way should a 6'2" backup PG be logging any minutes at SG.

    Even with Butler back and playing 39 minutes, Hinrich still got a significant number of SG minutes instead of Snell or Moore.

  • In reply to Edward:

    Totally agree, that's been Doug's biggest pet peeve with Hangdog all season long, he started commenting on that in the preseason.

  • BigWay, where are you? There talking about our favorite player, the Klankster, Klank Chokebrick, Hangdog, for god sake make Kirk bleeping Hinrich a coach already.

  • It's not inusual for the fan base in pro sports to be in disagreement with team management regarding the merits of a particular player. However, I find the Hinrich matter interesting in the almost unanimity of opinion that Hinrich should not be playing heavy minutes. Even many posters in the past who have defended Hinrich for all the usual reasons ( e.g. hustle, leadership) have appeared to come around to this point of view. As a long-time non-fan of Hinrich I find that refreshing, albeit about five years too late.

    Another reason for fans to be more vocal in their disagreement with management is the availability of data that can confirm what they see at games or on TV. Management now finds it harder to BS fans about players. Perhaps the best example is Hinrich. His dreadful play is backed-up by the numbers. In the past, managers or coaches would smugly say that the average fan can't see what they see on the floor, field, rink, etc. It's harder for them to do that now.

  • In reply to hgarbell:

    Sorry. That should be "unusual" in first line.

  • In reply to hgarbell:

    Agreed 100%. Great point. Hinrich is a rare case. He truly is as bad as he looks. Usually it's one or the other.

  • While I agree with the vast majority of your argument against the Hangdog today, I think that you went a little overboard on one comment, the thing that the dog is most known for, his grittiness, playing balls to the wall all the time.

    Have you seen Russell Westbrook play(especially this past month)? You should have qualified your man possessed comment as applying only to the Bulls, and even then I doubt that he plays any harder than Butler or even Noah. Personally, I'd say that this year, he actually takes plays off all the time because he is simply not in good enough shape anymore, due to his age. Really, the only thing that the corpsedog seems possessed by this year is early onset alzheimers.

  • A lot of word mincing here about Hinrich. He can't play and he's stupid. Nuff said. And his horrible play will be magnified in the playoffs. If Thibs keeps playing him 25+ minutes in the playoffs then good luck getting past the second round.

    Lastest PER: Hinrich now ranks at 351 of 355 players, a drop of 10 spots from last month. And he's the only player in the bottom 15 averaging more than 25 minutes per game. He blows, and no other coach except cement head would be playing him those kind of minutes if at all.

  • Dude quit crying. Kirk doesn't even really play that much anymore.

  • In reply to Jimbo45:

    He plays 25+ minutes a game. Those are rotation-type minutes. He should be getting Nazi-like playing time.

  • Good all around game tonight. T-snell with a very efficient 17 pts in 18 minutes. No reason for Kirk to ever see the floor at SG anymore.

    Question. Who fits better starting at SF? Snell or Dunleavy?

    I would kind of like to see what Dunleavy can do as the sharpshooter off the bench.

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    In reply to MarcelJ:

    I think snell is better on the bench ESP when Jimmy is in. Snell is not a very good rebounder.

    I think against Cleveland though, snell may be the better option. I think a combo of Snell's blank look, dunleavys length, and butlers tenacity is the only way to go after LeBron. Maybe even throw taj on him a little in the 4th when Cleveland goes w their small lineup of Kyrie, JR., Shumpert, LBJ, and Mosgov.

  • All the Bulls need is a small forward. Jimmy can play it but he's more needed and better suited at the 2. Niko can play it at times but he's much better suited at the 4. McDermott isn't close to being at the level he needs to be for consideration, Snell is best suited as a backup 2, so all we really have is Dunleavy who would be best coming off the bench. I know it's not Niko's ideal position but I would like to see Thibs try and start him at the 3 if for nothing else just as an experiment. He's just too good to be coming off the bench and whenever he's on the court good things happen. It may be challenging for him playing small forward but Mirotic is a warrior so I'm sure he would figure out ways to be effective. The guy is a constant threat and should be on the court 30+ minutes a game. The only way i see him getting it for the time being is at that 3 spot and he should be starting. Either that or bench Gasol which we all know isn't going to happen.

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