Barring an unforeseen waiver claim, Richard “Rip” Hamilton will be a member of the Chicago Bulls.
Multiple media outlets, including K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune, have reported that with Hamilton’s buyout with the Detroit Pistons official, the stage has been set for the Chicago Bulls to sign the veteran shooting guard to a two-year, $10 million deal.
This move brings the Chicago Bulls a step closer to an NBA Championship in 2012.
Hamilton is a significant upgrade over Keith Bogans and whether starting or coming off the bench, he will improve the Chicago Bulls shooting guard position tremendously.
Hamilton may not be the missing piece to turn the Eastern Conference semifinalists into an NBA favorite, but Rip’s leadership, veteran presence and on-court performance should put Chicago right back into the title picture.
One might look at Hamilton’s 2010-11 season and see a 33-year-old shell of his former self, but in actuality he still has a lot of left in the tank.
Hamilton was one of the foundations of the ultra successful Detroit Pistons team of the mid-2000s, which included an NBA Championship in 2004-05.
Defense was always Detroit’s calling card, but the unsung hero, Hamilton, was their most valuable scorer, averaging better than 17 points per game in the eight consecutive seasons leading up to last season.
The 2010-11 season was not a banner year for Hamilton, highlighted by a career worst 14.1 PPG and his lowest minutes-per-game total since his rookie season (27.2).
A deeper look in the numbers shows Hamilton is still valuable player and a definite upgrade at the shooting guard position for the Bulls.
Despite a slight drop in field goal percentage from his prime days, Hamilton shot a much more efficient three-point shot last year. His 38 percent mark is fifth best of his career and the best since 2007-08.
Hamilton’s 2010-11 effective field goal percentage (47) is identical to his career average, showing that while Hamilton’s raw scoring numbers may have been reduced, he still shoots at a similar efficiency.
Moreover, Hamilton likely scores within his career averages given increased playing time.
His per-36 scoring average of 18.7 PPG last season again falls in line with his career average of 19.3 PPG.
Hamilton’s defense took a step back the past two years, but that is in line with Detroit’s decreased defense.
As the Pistons’ team defense slacked, so did Rip’s overall defense. Once one of the NBA’s elite defenders, Hamilton saw his defensive win shares fall to as low as a career-worst 0.2.
Tom Thibodeau should have the same effect on Hamilton that he did with C.J. Watson, Luol Deng and a number of Chicago Bulls players whose defense excelled to career-bests under the first-year head coach.
A young, hungry Chicago Bulls team anchored by the league’s MVP will rejuvenate Hamilton who appeared to sleepwalk through his final years with the mediocre Detroit squad.
Better yet, Hamilton should fit right in with the Chicago Bulls offense. Hamilton is one of the NBA’s best off-the-ball players and is noted for his ability to free himself off screens.
Alongside Kyle Korver, the Bulls will be one of the most dangerous screening teams in the league, giving Derrick Rose multiple options beyond the arc.
Hamilton is not the player he was five years ago, but he is still an incredibly valuable one and a significant upgrade to Keith Bogans.
Simply put, Hamilton will be a vital piece to the Chicago Bulls’ quest for an NBA Championship this coming season.
Listen to my interview on the Chicago Sports Draft podcast (18+) last night. I talk with hosts Mike and Anthony about a number of Bulls topics including their offseason, Richard Hamilton, Reggie Williams, Dwight Howard rumors and most importantly Brad Miller’s corn rows.