No team in the NBA relies more on one player for offence than the Chicago Bulls.Last year, Derrick Rose was the only player ranked in the top 10 in usage percentage (which measures the percentage of a team’s plays that a player either shoots or turns it over) and assist percentage (which measures the percentage of team field goals that a player assisted on).
In short, Rose did the vast majority of the scoring and the distributing, and now that he’s out injured, there’s a gaping hole on the offensive end of the court.
The Bulls tried to fill this hole with three guards this offseason, Kirk Hinrich, Marco Belinelli, and most interestingly, Nate Robinson.
Robinson, at least based on reputation, is a pure gunner. He has scored in bunches throughout his eight-year, five-team NBA career. But he also shoots too much (23.5 career usage percentage, which is high) at too low of a percentage (42.6% on 2’s, 35.4% on 3’s) and hurts you at the defensive end (110 career defensive rating, which is high).
So when Chicago signed him, everyone assumed he would be a fifth-guard whose main contribution would be doing hilarious stuff on the bench.
But through four games (small sample size, but hear us out), Chicago is 3-1, and Robinson has been exactly what they needed.
He’s shooting the highest percentage of his career, assisting on a Derrick Rose-esque 42% of his teammates’ shots while he’s on the floor, playing adequate defence, and getting awarded with nearly as much playing time as starting PG Kirk Hinrich.
Some of the credit has to go to coach Tom Thibodeau, who was an assistant coach with the Celtics when Robinson played for them in 2009-10. He has been able to harness Robinson’s instant-offence instincts while also convincing him to move the ball and buy in on defence.
Robinson doesn’t have to be Derrick Rose. He just has to keep doing what he’s doing — giving the team an offensive lift when Luol Deng and Carlos Boozer need a rest — and Chicago is good enough defensively to stay comfortably in the Eastern Conference playoff picture.
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