A lot of fans lost hope once Derrick Rose injured himself yet again, and understandably so. Fortunately, though, it wasn’t all downhill from there for the Chicago Bulls. Thanks to D.J. Augustin, who head coach Tom Thibodeau labeled as this past season’s savior, there was still hope for something good in a mediocre Eastern Conference.
Pre All-Star Break
After being waived by the Toronto Raptors on Dec. 9, Augustin was picked up by the Bulls four days later as a free agent. He made his debut on Dec. 12 in the Bulls’ 91-90 win over the Milwaukee Bucks, but went scoreless. He struggled to shoot well in his first few games, but Augustin still ran the team well.
In fact, Augustin earned Thibodeau’s trust quickly. For Chicago’s 83-82 loss to the Orlando Magic on Dec. 16, Kirk Hinrich was out with a back injury, so Marquis Teague got the start; however, it was Augustin who earned the primary minutes at the point guard position. Soon enough, Teague would be out of the picture yet again with Augustin becoming the permanent backup point guard.
The nine games Augustin started at this time were also the only ones of the entire season, and he did his best work in that spot. As a starter, he averaged 17.8 points, 1.8 rebounds, 6.4 assists and 0.9 steals in 38.2 minutes. Along with that, Augustin shot 45.8 percent on field goals, a whopping 48.3 percent from downtown and 82.8 percent from the charity stripe.
Overall, he played in 32 total games before the All-Star break. During that time, Augustin averaged 13.7 points, 2.0 rebounds, 5.7 assists and 1.1 steals in 30.9 minutes of play. He also shot 41.4 percent from the field, 42.2 percent on threes and 88.3 percent on free throws.
Post All-Star Break
Augustin remained consistent for the remainder of the regular season nearly matching his pre All-Star break averages. His minutes were just about the same at 30.0 minutes a game. His field goal percentage went up to 42.4 percent. On 3-pointers, Augustin went from 42.2 percent to 40.0 percent. His free throw percentage went down very slightly to 88.2 percent.
Augustin maintained his efficiency well, but things took a more noticeable hit in terms of production; however, even those differences aren’t major. His point, rebound and assist averages all decreased to 12.4, 1.8 and 4.1. respectively, but none of that prevented him from being the same spark off the bench that the Bulls needed.
Unlike Augustin’s post All-Star break numbers, the numbers he put up in the postseason were noticeably worse, in terms of efficiency anyway. He shot 29.2 percent from the field and an even worse 26.9 percent from behind the arc. He was able to better his free throw percentage to 89.5 percent, but, since free throws don’t provide most of the points, it’s not that reassuring to see.
Production wise, Augustin was still somewhat consistent, but he still performed better in the regular season. He put up 13.2 points, 1.6 rebounds and 4.8 assists in 28.2 minutes.
The thing about the playoffs, though, is that the team, as a whole, performed badly, so, naturally, it’s somewhat expected for Augustin’s postseason numbers to be worse.
Towards the end of January, Augustin put up 27 points in back-to-back games, both of which resulted in a win for Chicago. First came the 102-100 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Jan. 20. He went 10-for-16 from the field, 5-for-7 on threes and 2-for-3 on free throws and had four rebounds, four assists and a steal in 37:03.
Two days later, Augustin shot 8-of-14 on field goals, 5-of-8 on 3-pointers and a perfect 6-for-6 from the charity stripe to go along with five rebounds and seven assists in 38:42. This was also one of the games Augustin started, and it was one his best in terms of both efficiency and production.
In a losing effort to the Miami Heat on Feb. 23, Augustin had his worst game in a Bulls uniform. He played 36:16 in Chicago’s 93-79 loss and went 0-for-10 from the field. If it weren’t for a pair of free throws, he would have gone scoreless. He did, however, dish out five assists and grabbed two rebounds.
For the regular season as a whole, Augustin played in 61 games and averaged 14.9 points, 2.1 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 0.9 steal in 30.4 minutes. His average of 14.9 points also led Chicago once Rose and Luol Deng were out of the picture.
The addition of Augustin to the Bulls roster was definitely a season-saving action. He offered the bench production that was lacking from the roster as well as just offensive production that the Bulls struggled to provide. The playoffs didn’t quite match his regular season numbers, but, again, it was the entire team who faced troubles.
Final Grade: A-