Bulls Stat Monkey Brief: Chicago Bulls vs. Boston Celtics (11/12/12)

Captain Kirk is out, Nate Robinson is in. Will the Bulls avoid a clover clobber?

The Bulls are off to a 4-2 start, coming off a win against a solid Timberwolves squad. Still continuing to find a solid offensive identity without Rose, they face more adversity as Kirk Hinrich is day-to-day after sustaining a strained hip injury last Saturday. Let’s look forward to the Bulls matchup with the Celtics and see how Captain Kirk’s presence will be missed.

Robinson’s First Start

With Nate Robinson getting his first start in a Bulls uniform, what can we expect to see differently from the Bulls? On offense, both players are virtually equal in terms of offensive rating (points produced per 100 possessions) with Hinrich at 98 and Robinson at 97. Given that last season’s individual offensive rating average was around 100, both players appear to be an okay substitute for Rose while he recovers. However, let’s break down the factors leading to each player’s rating and how their tendencies contribute to the Bulls offense.

Hinrich isn’t as much of a scorer as he used to be, averaging less than 9 points per game the past two seasons. However, he has added value through solid distribution of the ball, achieving an assist percentage of 31.7% so far this season. This means that Hinrich is assisting on more than 3 out of every 10 FGs while he is on the court. He also has done a good job holding on to the ball, averaging less than one turnover per game. He is actually shooting the worst he has in his career, but is still being selective with his shots and keeping his usage low, only using 15.3% of team possessions while on the floor.

Robinson, on the other hand, is more of a scorer, averaging 11.5 points per game while playing less than 23 minutes a game. Unlike Hinrich, Robinson likes to put up a lot of shots, and he is currently using 26.1% of his team's possessions while on the floor. Another reason for the high usage percentage is that Robinson has given the ball up a lot this season, averaging 2.5 turnovers per game in a supporting role.

What Should We Expect?

The Bulls, unfortunately, are worse off with Robinson at the helm. His high usage rate will keep the ball out of the hands of more efficient players like Deng and Noah. The Bulls offense has been very average this season, and it will suffer even more while Hinrich is out. That said, the Celtics will have a tough time against a stout Bulls defense, and Thibodeau’s squad should still be able to compete for a W tonight.