All season long, Chicago Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich has received plenty of negative criticism. People have said that he sucks, does not score enough, is always injured, and has a horrible shooting percentage. But as the regular season neared its end, Hinrich stepped up his game, having his best month of the season in April.
First of all, Hinrich played in all ten games during the month of April. No injuries, no infected elbows, or anything like that held him back from playing, so it certainly was great to actually see him out there on a consistent basis and knowing what his status was.
Along with that, Hinrich’s shots had been going in a lot more. He was being more aggressive offensively, took more shots for himself, and executed on 42.27% of them. Though the percentage is not necessarily astonishing, it is a nice improvement from the 37.7% he averaged for the season. His shot selection differed as the regular season concluded as well. As Hinrich was more aggressive on the offensive end, he did not always settle for jump shots. He made sure to get into the paint and force his defender to really do work. Because of this, he also got the the free throw line more often. Of the ten games in April, Hinrich was able to draw contact for free throws in five of the games. Prior to that, Hinrich rarely saw at the charity stripe. There was not much contact for him to take from defenders, because whenever in the paint, he usually looked to pass rather than score.
What is even more impressive though is Hinrich’s three-point shot. When Hinrich initially started his second stint with the Bulls, it was evident that age had got the better of him as his shots were not going the way they had during this first stint. Eventually, the threes started falling more, and now, they are being made at a fantastic rate. For the month of April, Hinrich has shot 51.51% on threes, and seeing as the Bulls are one of the worst three-point shooting teams in the league, having that as a success rate is definitely beneficial.
Aside from all of those improvements, Hinrich has been his hard-nosed, gritty, self of a basketball player. He has continued to play tough defense, make hustle plays, and do all the little things he is known for, but the difference now is that he has been more effective due to his healthy self in the past month.
Take the final regular season game against the Washington Wizards for example. Washington’s John Wall had been explosive since he returned from his knee injury, but Hinrich’s defense limited him. Wall started the game shooting poorly, unable to provide a spark for his team. Once Nate Robinson checked into the game, Wall did not have as many struggles. This is not to say Robinson’s defense was ineffective, as it was not, but Hinrich did well against Wall, helping hold the Wizards point guard to 8-21 shooting. In the finale versus Washington, Hinrich also did well defending just in general, making several plays where he got near steals.
Overall, the month of April has been the best month of the season for Hinrich, with averages of 10.3 points, 4.6 assists, 2.7 rebounds, 1.5 steals, 42.27% FG, 51.51% 3PT, 79.46% FT ( in 5 games with free throw attempts), 1.4 turnovers, and 32.34 minutes. He may not have started the season too well, but he has finished strong, peaking right before the playoffs. This will serve to be very vital as the Bulls head into the playoffs, especially with the return of Derrick Rose still in question.