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The Man From Rip City

21 Dec 2011

The addition of Rip Hamilton makes the Bulls a better team. I come not to dispute that. I simply seek, as always, a bit of perspective.

First, let us please, for the love of Tex Winter, stop comparing Hamilton immediately and exclusively to Keith Bogans.

Yes, Bogans is the man who lost his starting job and indeed his gainful employment altogether to Hamilton, but far and away the better comparison is to Kyle Korver. In crunch time, if the Bulls last season needed offense, needed a wing threat to draw defensive attention from Derrick Rose, they turned never to Bogans but to Korver.

If Rip Hamilton is to offer the Bulls, in “winning time,” more than what they had, he has to be better than Kyle Korver, not Keith Bogans.

Does he offer this? Well, yes, he probably does.

Hamilton is faster in the open court, savvier with his passes, and even more nimble in that which he and Korver do best: curling around screens to pop open on the wing.

Most notably, Hamilton is a better combination of offense and defense than Bogans, Korver or Ronnie Brewer. And if Tuesday’s preseason finale is any indication, he fits seamlessly into this offense.

I just can’t understand why Chicago fans and media are uniformly acting like the addition of a wing shooter who curls around screens is going to carry the Bulls to another level. They had a hugely successful one for 82 games last season! (And a slightly less successful version in the playoffs.)

Which brings me to my second point:

For six seasons, from 2002-08, Rip Hamilton was one of the most effective shooting guards in the league, and it is this player the mainstream pundits are remembering. But as measured in win shares, the past two seasons were his least productive since his rookie year with the Wizards a full 12 years ago. Per 48 minutes, his output was half the league average and one-third of his career peak.

Granted, it’s not quite fair to say he has irrevocably become that shell of a former all-star, given how awful and how dysfunctional (Rip included) those recent Pistons teams were. I expect he will play better in Chicago than he ever did under John Kuester, Detroit’s unlamented, mutinied-upon head coach.

***I will also note that Hamilton’s great run from 2002-08 coincides exactly with his years playing alongside Chauncey Billups in the backcourt. You think he might benefit from running with Rose?

But please, if you’re going to talk about the Bulls adding a former all-star shooting guard, make sure you don’t forget that first part.

(Photo: Bulls.com illustration)

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