The Rip Hamilton signing didn’t cause shock waves in the NBAverse.
Not with all the hubub surrounding Chris Paul. Even Miami signing Shane Battier got more positive press. After all, it was felt that the Heat needed only one or two little tweaks to get over the hump.
Meanwhile, the Bulls won 62 games last season, have the reigning MVP, and seemed to be a scoring two guard away from true championship contention.
They got that scoring two guard when they signed Hamilton. But all I heard were a lot of yawns.
But last night’s 93-85 preseason win against the Pacers — and, yes, I realize it was only an exhibition game against the Pacers — provided some indication about how good Rip can still be. And how he can help improve Chicago’s offense.
Hamilton scored 13 points in eight minutes. He did Rip Hamilton things. He moved. He shot with precision. He forced his defender to pay attention…and therefore said defender couldn’t sag off and clog openings that could be used by other players to drive, pass, or make an offensive move.
The Bulls racked up 30 assists on 39 field goals.
No, Chicago doesn’t have LeBron James, doesn’t have a Big Three, doesn’t have the kind of rabid media following the Heat enjoy.
But 62-win teams that make it to the Eastern Conference Finals don’t require a major overhaul.
The NBA landscape has changed radically the last several years. It started when Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen joined Paul Pierce in Boston. Then Pau Gasol joined Kobe in L.A. We all know about LeBron’s Decision last season. Then Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony teamed up in New York. And now Chris Paul is on The Other L.A. Team.
Chicago’s moves have been much quieter and more subtle. And, therefore, have made fewer headlines.
But stop and think about it. Anybody in the Bulls’ starting five could go off for 20 points on any given night. Okay, Joakim Noah less so than the other four, but still. Derrick Rose, Hamilton, Luol Deng, and Carlos Boozer can all score.
Chicago’s bench and defense are also near or at the top of the league.
Their only “weakness” seems to be a lack of star power. Which, in all fairness, has mattered in recent years and at various other times in NBA history.
By the way, I may have gotten a bit ahead of myself. As ESPNChicago’s Nick Friedell pointed out, Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau hasn’t fully committed to Rip as the starter.
“We’re going to see how everything goes. We’re still trying to figure out what’s best for the team. As of right now, that’s what we’re planning on, but we’ll just see how it goes.”
Personally, I think he’ll start.
And I think that will be a very good thing for the Bulls…