The Chicago Tribune recently ran an article about Kirk Hinrich’s shooting slump titled Hinrich not sweating cold spell.
Well, if Captain Kirk isn’t sweating, he should be.
Remember: Despite the fact that Derrick Rose was out indefinitely and C.J. Watson had played well both as a backup and as a starter when Rose was out, the Bulls declined to pick up his $3.2 million team option for the 2012-13 season. Management wanted to save money…chemistry and success be damned. Watson went on to sign a two-year contract for the veteran’s minimum to back up Deron Williams on the New Jersey Nets.
The Bulls then went out and inked Hinrich to a two-year deal reportedly worth around $8 million. This was management’s “big free agent signing” during an offseason in which the Miami Heat stole Ray Allen from the Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers traded for both Dwight Howard and Steve Nash.
But Hinrich was family. His poor seasons in Washington and Atlanta were excused based on injury and miscasting. Conventional wisdom was that Kirk was better suited to fill in at point guard until Rose returned after which he could slide between backing up both backcourt positions. His defensive acumen, versatility and history with the team made him well worth the expense. Or so the theory went.
The good news:
Hinrich leads the Bulls in assists. He ranks 21st in assists per game (5.9), 19th in assist to turnover ratio (2.94) and 13th in assist percentage (34.6).
The bad news:
Pretty much everything else. Hinrich is having by far the worst season of his career, which is really saying something when you look at the stats from his last season with the Hawks.
Hinrich is averaging only 4.9 points while shooting a cringe-worthy 29.6 percent from the field and an equally gag-inspiring 25 percent from three-point range. Kirk is even struggling to connect on free throws, as evidenced by his frigid 53.3 percent conversion rate at the charity stripe.
According to John Hollinger’s latest stats, Hinrich’s Player Efficiency Rating is a career-low 9.1. That ranks him at 49th among shooting guards and 57th among point guards. And according to the PER reference guide, Kirk is somewhere between “Definitely Renting” and “Next Stop: D-League.”
His True Shooting Percentage is 36.3. That ranks him dead last among shooting guards and five spots from dead last among point guards. In other words, he is one of the worst shooting guards in the league.
His Value Added — the estimated number of points a player adds to a team’s season total above what a “replacement player” would produce — is -4.7.
I could keep throwing Hinrich’s nightmare numbers at you — like his Offensive Rating of 86 or his -0.2 Offensive Win Shares — but the horse is dead. It cannot be beaten anymore.
But it’s only been nine games right?
Said Hinrich: “It’s such a small sample size. Most games, I really don’t know if I have it going or not because I’m taking so few shots. I’m not worried. I still feel like I’m shooting it good in practice.”
It’s true that Hinrich is taking only 6.0 shots per game. But then Jimmy Butler is taking only 2.8 shots per game…and he’s shooting 60 percent from the field. And 93 percent from the line.
I’m not sure what the Bulls should do. They could start Nate Robinson. After all, Little Nate is averaging 12 points while shooting 40 percent on threes and 80 percent from the line. His PER is currently 17.6 and his assist percentage (32.3) compares favorably to Hinrich’s.
Of course, he has the tendency to overdribble, and the starting unit would then have to hide both Robinson and Carlos Boozer on defense. And then the Bulls would have absolutely no scoring punch off the bench.
All of which means the Bulls will probably just try to wait out Hinrich’s slump and hope he eventually finds his rhythm.
I just wonder whether he still has a rhythm to find.