By Rory Sharrock
Heading into the 2013-14 season, when it came to talking about the point guard position, all the discussions throughout the Chicago land area and the NBA was about Derrick Rose.
Is he fully recovered from his knee injury? Will he still have an explosive first step? Will he still be able to put up big numbers? While these were all legitimate questions, the former MVP was unable to respond due to another unfortunate injury that sidelined him for the year.
However, while Rose was unable to suit up for a full slate of games, the Bulls have found answers to these point guard questions, and his name is D.J. Augustin.
Augustin has filled in admirably since joining the squad earlier this year and is a key component behind the team’s high-ranking position in the Eastern Conference. The five-year vet from Texas is averaging 12.4 points with 4.5 assists per game and is quickly becoming a fan favorite in the city. While his season stats aren’t the MVP-type numbers put up by his predecessor, he still provides a steady beat on the floor regardless if he’s penciled in as a starter or a reserve.
“He’s saved our season,” said head coach Tom Thibodeau. “He’s a big shot maker. He’s made big plays. Not only with his shooting, but his with his playmaking ability. If you trap him, he’ll hit the open man. D.J. can beat you in a lot of different ways. He can beat you with the shot. He can beat you with the pass. He can beat you with his penetration. It’s a big plus having him.”
During the month of March, Augustin averaged 16.8 points and connected on 40 percent from behind the perimeter to keep the Bulls in the hunt for a top-three seed in the Eastern Conference. During this recent run of excellence, he has posted All-Star numbers, scoring 20 or more in seven games. The summit of this stretch took place on March 30 at Boston when he dropped a season-high 33 points in a win over the Celtics.
Although he’s playing lights-out basketball and most importantly, the team is winning, Augustin remains humbled by his performance. His eyes are on the bigger picture of continuing to rack up victories and make a run at the crown this spring.
“D-Rose is the face of this the face of this team. I’m just trying to come in and do whatever I can do to help us go far in the playoffs,” said Augustin. “It’s a great thing to hear coach’s comments. It’s a great thing to hear, but at the same time, I don’t pay attention to that kind of stuff. These guys are a great team without me, and I’m just trying to come in and do my part. We’re just hungry. We just want to finish the season strong and play hard against every team.”