In professional sports, so often a player’s success is dependent upon fit and opportunity.
When D.J. Augustin started the season with the Toronto Raptors, he found himself playing behind Kyle Lowry and largely unable to show what he could do, playing limited minutes for the team.
After a December trade led to Toronto waiving him, he quickly found his way to the Bulls and has been an important piece for them ever since. After scoring 13 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter of Chicago’s Wednesday night victory over the Augustin’s former team in Toronto, his teammate’s were quick to deliver praise onto their point guard and the boost he has given their team.
“He’s changed everything,” Joakim Noah said of Augustin’s presence. “Changed our team. We were really down in the dumps, D.J. came in, he’s a great scoring punch for us, he makes easy offense for other guys. For me personally, I don’t think I would’ve made the All-Star Game if it wasn’t for D.J. He’s a quiet guy, but he’s a good dude, man. He’s a good dude and he helps this ball club a lot.”
Augustin’s eyes widened and he was unable to keep from smiling when told what Noah said, but he was quick to point out all that Noah does for the Bulls. On a night where the big man recorded a career-high 13 assists, there was plenty to mention.
“That guy, he’s an All-Star, man, Augustin said. ““No matter what, he does so much for our team as far as rebounding, scoring, assists. The little things that a lot of people don’t see. He brings that energy to practice, the atmosphere on the bus, on the plane. That’s big for a team.”
While things didn’t work out for Augustin in Toronto, Carlos Boozer is thankful the Chicago front office and coaching staff saw a fit for him with the Bulls.
“I don’t know what [Toronto] were looking at, but we picked up a gem,” Boozer said. “He’s been playing as good as anybody in the league since he came to us in my opinion. Big shot after big shot in the fourth. But honestly, he’s been doing that since he got here. As he got more comfortable with our system, more comfortable with his teammates, he’s been playing terrific.”
A 13-year veteran in the league, Boozer has seen lots of guys make their way in and out of the league.
“I think it’s a matter of opportunity,” he said. “It’s crazy how this league works. There are so many great players and sometimes you don’t get to see everybody’s talent until they get an opportunity. For him, he would’ve did the same thing [in Toronto] if he got the opportunity, but like I said, for us, it was our blessing. We gave him the opportunity, he’s been playing terrific.”
After Wednesday morning’s shootaround, Augustin said he could see his old apartment from the bus while driving to the arena. Instead of thinking about the return to the city that waived him two months ago, he was focused on the battle against an Eastern Conference rival. Finding a fit in Chicago, Augustin also doesn’t have any reason to keep looking back.
“My teammates, we all get along great, on and off the court,” Augustin said. “I love my coaches and the fans of Chicago, it’s a great place. In the NBA, a lot of guys can’t find their home and I feel like I found a home [in Chicago].”