COMMENTARY | Since the departure of Michael Jordan many years ago, it seems the starting shooting guard position for the Chicago Bulls has constantly been an issue. There have been capable starting forwards, centers and point guards during the post-Jordan era, but the two guard slot remains a question mark. This is evidenced by the fact that Keith Bogans recently held the spot. No disrespect to Bogans, he plays tough and is a great defender. He is a solid guard, just probably not one that should have the word "shooting" attached to his position.
Enter former Detroit Piston and NBA champion Richard Hamilton. Known for being money from mid-range, his signing with the Bulls in 2011 looked promising. But injuries and age, or perhaps injuries due to age, have prevented expectations of him from coming to full fruition. He only appeared in 28 games last NBA season and just 45 thus far in the current one. There is also talk that he may not even return from the back injury which has kept him sidelined lately.
However, something very good has come of Hamilton's extended absences. Marco Belinelli has been afforded the opportunity to show what he can do as a starter for the Bulls, and has breathed life into the otherwise stagnant position. Technically, he has been starting "in place" of Rip. But Belinelli has played so well, both scoring and handling the ball, that he should remain the starter even if Hamilton were to rejoin the lineup.
Belinelli has scored double figures in six of the eight games he has started during the month of March. He has shot at least 50% from downtown in six of those games as well. This ability to stretch the floor is something that Hamilton simply cannot offer, but is sorely needed from his position. Though still searching for consistency, Belinelli can clearly get it done when given the chance. It may actually be time Coach Thibodeau made him more of a focal point on offense. The team could certainly use a boost on that side of the ball.
This isn't the first time Belinelli has performed well in extended minutes. When Hamilton went down in December, with yet another injury, Belinelli stepped in and went on a tear-- himself crediting more playing time for improved effectiveness. He deserves the chance to remain the Bulls starter not only because he is better than Hamilton at this stage in his career, but because the organization needs to be able to make an informed decision as to whether or not he is the long-term answer. This cannot be done with a player only getting 20 minutes or so per game.
There was plenty of disappointment to go around when the Bulls did nothing at the NBA trade deadline. Especially because the shooting guard and back-up center positions had become such glaring weaknesses. But what's done is done. It's time to move forward with the players on the roster. And at his position, Belinelli is noticeably the best of them. The answer, he just may be. It is also entirely possible that he is not. Nonetheless, it's time the organization found out.
Acamea Deadwiler is a Chicago-area native with several years experience covering the NBA, including the Chicago Bulls, for Examiner.com. She has also been featured in Bounce magazine, SLAM Online, and various other publications. Follow Acamea on Twitter @AcameaLD.
More from this contributorRip's Last Run?
- Sports & Recreation
- Chicago Bulls
- Marco Belinelli