Will starting Nate Robinson over Kirk Hinrich give the Bulls a much needed perk, especially on offense?
It’s no secret that Kirk Hinrich is struggling this season. He already has had three injuries and his skills – at least from a physical aspect – are clearly in decline. That’s not to say he isn’t still a solid NBA player, because he is, but it would seem that his days as a capable starting point guard have come to an end and maybe Tom Thibodeau should think about inserting Nate Robinson into the starting lineup.
Kirk is currently averaging 4.9 points and 5.9 assists in 25 minutes of playing time. He’s shooting 30 percent from the field, 25 percent from the three-point line and 53 percent from the free-throw line. These are not numbers you’d expect from a starting NBA point guard.
Conversely, Nate is averaging 12 points and 4 assists in 23 minutes of playing time. From the field Robinson is shooting 47 percent, from deep he's connecting at a 40 percent clip, and he's making 80 percent of his free throws. While those numbers won’t necessarily blow you away, they’re clearly better than Hinrich’s.
Also, in the absence of D. Rose, Nate is the only player on the team who can create his own shot and get shots for others. That talent comes in handy in late or close game situations and Robinson’s fearlessness in those scenarios is invaluable.
The Bulls are 5-5 this season and even though their defense is one of the league’s best, you can’t win if you can’t score in the NBA. Chicago ranks ninth on defense, holding opponents to an average of 94.2 points per game. But on offense, the Bulls rank 21st, scoring an average of 94.8 points per game.
Under Tom Thibodeau, the Bulls have never been one of the highest ranked scoring teams in the league, but this year, without Derrick Rose, they can’t win with the “keep the game close and let Derrick bail us out” style of play. They’re going to need to score and the lack of production at the point and their overall inability to score at times is the most glaring.
It’s not easy to justify starting a reserve that makes less in salary than the incumbent starter, but if you want to win basketball games, then the switch makes sense. Sure Robinson isn’t the greatest defender and he’s small in stature, but his heart is much bigger than his height and he plays with an infectious energy that the Bulls could sorely use right now.