Jan 23, 2012; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bulls shooting guard Richard Hamilton (32) with the ball during the second half against the New Jersey Nets at the United Center. The Bulls won 110-95. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-US PRESSWIRE

Mid-Season Grades: Shooting Guard

Chicago added one of the finer shooting guards in recent NBA history when they signed Rip Hamilton, previously of Detroit. Hamilton came in to fix what was a glaring problem for the Bulls last year with Keith Bogans not living up to any sort of offensive expectation. But there are guys at the position then just Hamilton with Ronnie Brewer being featured prominently this year, especially with Hamilton’s injury woes. The offensive issue hasn’t fully been solved but it’s not nearly the disaster it was last year.

Scoring: Richard Hamilton – 14.2ppg (Tied for 16th in NBA/8th in Eastern Conference)

Steals: Ronnie Brewer – 1.14stpg (16th in NBA/7th in Eastern Conference)

FG %: Jimmy Butler – 50% (9th in NBA/ 5th in Eastern Conference)

The Good

So far the shooting guard situation for the Bulls hasn’t been spectacular but it’s been far from horrible. Richard Hamilton has inserted himself gracefully into the Bulls lineup, complimenting Derrick Rose the way Chicago was hoping Keith Bogans could have last year. Despite missing significant chunks of the year, Hamilton is averaging 14.2 point per game in his 11 games this year.

The obvious bright spot has been that of Ronnie Brewer who has seen a large amount of time with Hamilton out. Brewer averaging just 7.6 point per game but when he plays the Bulls son’t completely fall apart which is a key part of winning. The rookie Jimmy Butler has impressed in what little time he’s seen which bodes well for the future at the position. The Bulls were hurting last year and the healing process is coming along nicely.

The Bad

Although it hasn’t been a total failure, the progress of the shooting guards hasn’t been what was hoped. Brewer hasn’t disappointed but that’s not wonderful when that’s one of your only compliments. Brewer’s defense is stout, but that’s exactly what Keith Bogans was last year. Brewer made a point in the offseason to say he will try hard for the starting role and if taken out of context those statements could be perceived as an omen. Brewer is starting because Hamilton can’t and that’s not something to hang your hat on.

Butler’s only knock is he just doesn’t play. If he played more there may not be as much frustration as there is with the shooting guards. The situation isn’t horrible, nothing can beat last year or the years previous. But it can get better in the second half and for the sake of Brewer it better.

The Ugly

Like at point guard, injuries have sunk the progress at shooting guard. Richard Hamilton has played in less then half of the Bulls games thus far in the year which isn’t what Chicago wanted. They are forced into a corner of having to rest him in order to keep him healthy — that’s not what they paid for. But Hamilton’s worth will be proven in the post season which is why they signed him. The only thing is Chicago would have liked to use him during the regular season more so then they have.

Ronnie Brewer isn’t ugly yet but he’s sure headed that way. The offensive production is slightly better then Bogans and there is more confidence when Brewer takes shots. But he’s not where he needs to be yet and with Hamilton missing as much time has he is, the Bulls need Brewer’s best.

Overall

The situation at shooting guard isn’t ideal yet, it’s still a work in progress. But at the end of the day, with all the pains the position has suffered, Chicago is still 27-8 and at the top of the Eastern Conference with Miami and the top of the league with Oklahoma City. Rip Hamilton needs his healing time and his production will come in due time. Ronnie Brewer isn’t playing the way some would hope but he’s not tanking which is the minimum that can be asked. Jimmy Butler hasn’t been heard from much this year which is unfortunate because he is fixing to be a big part of the future in Chicago. The second half will be crunch time for the shooting guards. The time for excuses is over and the slack has run out. If the play continues as is, the headaches and face palms will begin again in Chicago and we may have to realize the position is the same as last year with new names.

Grade: C+

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