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.