In a season that has been a constant storm of injuries, trades, and constant lineup changes, there has been one source of quiet consistency. That source is DJ Augustin. The sixth year guard out of Texas has been a blessing for the Bulls this year. For a guy that got a qualifying contract offer rescinded by the Bobcats, then went to Indiana and stunk so bad the offense didn’t stutter, but went backwards when he was in the game. When he got to Toronto, he was the guy the team needed to WAIVE just to clear a roster spot to trade Rudy Gay to the Sacramento Kings. By this time, he was considered too small of a point guard who lost the only thing that got him in the league in the first place…his jump shot. He was well on his way overseas. Then the Chicago Bulls called on December 13th.
Coming out of Texas, the DJ Augustin you see now, was the guy that played in Charlotte. He was a very popular player with the fans and he was good enough that the Bobcats let Raymond Felton walk instead of paying 10 million a season. Then Larry Brown happened. Let’s be clear there are a lot of Larry Brown fans out there that thinks he’s a genius. I am not one of them. The reason is what he does to players. Augustin was a perfect example. Larry Brown proceeded to change Augustin into the point guard that he wanted. DJ at the time was a scoring point guard. Larry Brown wants his point guards to be slow and plodding in the offense and hide his ying yang under the term of “playing the right way”. (If anyone has any clue of what that means…log on to Facebook Pippen Aint Easy or Twitter@BullsBeatBlog and tell me, but not that generic cliché everyone gives.) Over time you could see DJ’s game dissolve right along with his confidence. By the time DJ’s game hit rock bottom so had the Bobcats. The team had originally offered Augustin a qualifying offer, but Larry Brown, who falls in and out of love with players on a weekly basis had quit on Augustin (and the Bobcats too for that matter) and the Bobcats rescinded their offer and let him walk. They replaced him with Ramon Sessions with a one year cheapie deal.
When he quietly came to Indiana, he was bad. Real bad. He was so far down on the Pacers bench he needed to buy a ticket to sit there. With no confidence in his jumper he struggled, shooting less than 30% from the field. Let’s understand something. Shooting 45% is acceptable, 40% means you need work. Less than 40% means you can’t shoot. Less than 30%…well let me put it this way, after you read this article pull up the shooting percentage of Marquis Teague. It’s not that bad but 28% from the field along with the fact that you can’t stop anyone on defense can get you sent to Toronto. Which is what happened. When he got there he went to a team that was getting blown up. When they traded Rudy Gay to Sacramento, the Raptors needed spots for the players the Kings traded so they got rid of Augustin. Man, that’s cold people!
When Chicago brought Augustin on, there were two things running through my mind. One, he’s cheap. Two, what in the world are the Bulls thinking? But as the season progressed, DJ Augustin has been BALLIN! He averages almost 11 points a game, leads the team in assists with 6.4 and has 1.8 steals. His coming out party was last Saturday against his old team the Bobcats. He put the dog to Charlotte, scoring 20 points and handing out 12 assists. He is gaining confidence every time he steps on the floor while he anchors the second unit. Augustin is the key ingredient to what the Bulls need to do to get in the playoffs and last past one week. They are going to have to speed up the tempo and get easy baskets which is a perfect scenario for Augustin. Now he still can’t guard a cup of juice with a trained Doberman, but he can’t have everything right?
DJ’s play has made Kirk Hinrich expendable (remember DJ’s contract is on the cheap, a Bulls plus) which is why rumors swirl all the time about Hinrich being traded. But it’s bigger than that. Augustin has been a consistent player for the Bulls for weeks. If he keeps this up, he might have played himself into a back-up role for next season.