Filling in for Derrick Rose as a starter in the first year of his second stint with the Bulls, veteran floor general Kirk Hinrich’s worth couldn’t be measured by basic statistics, except for winning, as the team’s record with Hinrich on the floor was markedly better than when he was sidelined with one of the myriad injuries that plagued him last season.
Relegated to a backup role now, something he experienced in Rose’s debut campaign in Chicago, Hinrich’s value is still of major importance to the Bulls, as his defense and ability to play both backcourt positions are key, not to mention the fact that he quickly earned Tom Thibodeau’s trust. Whether or not he makes an impact as a scorer or even logs high assist totals (it should be noted that last season, he was the league’s best in “hockey assists,” the pass that leads to an assist), Hinrich’s steady presence, dogged defense and overall toughness is something that coaches, teammates and opponents alike have a tremendous amount of respect for, no matter if it’s readily apparent to fans or not.
Able to rest this summer to heal from all of his aches and pains before starting his offseason training, Hinrich is said to be in excellent shape as camp begins. While he won’t be tasked with as heavy of a workload as he was last season, Hinrich will not only serve as a guard rail for Rose’s return, but as one of the NBA’s better on-the-ball defenders for a team that emphasizes that aspect of the game, he'll often be on the floor when it matters most.
Make sure to check out all the Bulls previews, each spotlighting this season's expectations for individual players and head coach Tom Thibodeau: