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Posted at 3:01 PM ET, 12/27/2010

Kirk Hinrich adjusting to many different roles

By Michael Lee

Early in the fourth quarter of the Wizards' loss on Sunday in San Antonio, a fan yelled at Kirk Hinrich as he headed to the scorer's table. "Hey, Kirk. You're the man. Don't let anybody tell you different."


Y'all must've forgot. (AP Photo)

Hinrich didn't look up, but couldn't contain his laughter. Playing up to the fan, Hinrich smiled and thumped his fist across his chest. It may have been forgotten the past few years, with him playing off the ball with Derrick Rose in Chicago, or switching through three positions with John Wall and Gilbert Arenas with the Wizards, but Hinrich is, and has always seen himself as, a point guard.

The Bulls drafted him to be their point guard in 2003 and he led the team to three playoff appearances before having to accept playing off the ball when the team lucked into the No. 1 pick in Rose's draft. With Wall injured for much of this month and Arenas dealt to Orlando, Hinrich has displayed his ability to run the Wizards.

In the past four games, he is averaging 16.3 points and 9.8 assists despite constant lineup changes. Hinrich has scored at least 10 points in nine of the 12 games in December and two of his three games with 10 or more assists have come in that span. "He's been good, playing both ends," Coach Flip Saunders said. "The only thing that's happened, he's had to play so many minutes."

Hinrich, who turns 30 on Jan. 2, played all but six seconds against Miami on Saturday, and appeared to wear down in the final minutes, as he missed a critical free throw. He played 43 minutes against Chicago and started cramping in the fourth quarter. He also got hit below his left eye in the Wizards' 87-80 loss to the Bulls, and the swelling still hasn't fully subsided. The shiner had taken on multiple colors -- red, yellow, blue and purple -- during the Spurs' game.

In his past two games, Hinrich has had to guard two of the best point guards in the league in Rose (25 points and five assists) and Tony Parker (20 points and 14 assists). After making his first six shots and finishing with 15 points and seven assists in 35 minutes in San Antonio, Hinrich praised Parker for how he ran his team.

"That team is a well-oiled machine. Got a lot of speed, they know how to play," he said of the Spurs. "The problem, with Tony, in the half court, you try to keep him out of the paint. He's so tough in transition. He was able to push it down our throats, find some open guys and they got real hot from three there."

Hinrich started the first 22 games, then became a reserve as the team tried to showcase Arenas, and was back in the starting lineup after the trade. He has played off Wall, played off Arenas, and now shares the floor with the Nick Young.

Wall is easing his way back in the fold, so Hinrich may soon have to shift back to shooting guard, or the bench, in the next few weeks. But he is willing to adjust to whatever role he's asked to accept. "You know, this is what we get paid to do. I'm trying to take advantage of my opportunity, play hard and get some wins," Hinrich said. "I feel comfortable playing both spots. I came into the league as a point guard and I always wanted to be versatile enough to be on the court in different situations."

By Michael Lee  | December 27, 2010; 3:01 PM ET
Categories:  Kirk Hinrich  
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Next: Open thread: Wizards (7-21) at Rockets (14-15)

Comments

Can we package Javal & Dre for Blake Griffin? I'm just sayin...

Posted by: Gooddad | December 27, 2010 2:36 PM | Report abuse

I am sure the Clippers are just salivating about trading a ROY big man with nothing but upside from here for Wizards collection of late first rounders and 2nd rounders that can't get it together after years in the league.

our best player is Wall who is injured and not performing as well as Blake. maybe we could package him along with blatche, Yi, Seraphin, Lewis and Thornton.

Posted by: Blurred | December 27, 2010 3:14 PM | Report abuse

And that's coming from a guy who thinks Mcgee will be battling Griffin for at least a decade as one of the top big men in the game

Posted by: Blurred | December 27, 2010 3:17 PM | Report abuse

With Wall just getting back from the injuries, why would Flip feel the need to put them both on the floor together?
Divide the 48 mins at PG between them and allow Wall to gradually increase his minutes over the course of the season.

With NY, Howard and Martin all capable of playing off the ball I don't see why Hinrich has to play more that 30 minutes a game.

Posted by: bozomoeman | December 27, 2010 3:19 PM | Report abuse

"With Wall just getting back from the injuries, why would Flip feel the need to put them both on the floor together?
Divide the 48 mins at PG between them and allow Wall to gradually increase his minutes over the course of the season."

I don't know that he will. If Nick plays D, that will go a long way towards guaranteeing minutes as SG. Howard and Martin can play the position in a pinch, but Howard is needed at SF and Martin is borderline to play at all unless someone is hurt.

Posted by: Samson151 | December 27, 2010 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Hinrich was brought here to help change the culture both on and off the court. With Hinrich, Howard, and Lewis the Wiz now have 3 guys in the rotation who have played playoff caliber defense. It's that tough mindedness that Flip needs to rub off on the rest of the team.

Sampson151, No the team isn't playing playoff caliber defense yet, but that doesn't happen overnight. They're holding team after team below 100 points so they're making real progress. There were times last night were they really mixed it up with the Spurs.

The big peice to add to the defensive puzzle is Wall, he needs to get up to speed because Hinrich just plain doesn't have the quicks to handle guys like Rose and Parker. Wall starts to play lockdown D and the perimeter D could be the best it's been in years.

If I were Flip, I'd have to ask McGee and Blatche if they plan on expending as much energy boxing out on the boards as they did the other night...
GM

Posted by: flohrtv | December 27, 2010 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Hinrich has to play more that 30 minutes a game.

Posted by: bozomoeman | December 27, 2010 3:19 PM | Report abuse

I don't either. Especially when it's unlikely KH would return to the Wizards after this season.

Posted by: demonj21 | December 27, 2010 3:24 PM | Report abuse

I acknowledge the fact that Flip has forgotten more about basketball than I've ever known but he tends to fall in love with specific players to the detriment of his team.

Boykins had a good roll on this team last year but Flip played him way too many minutes and gave him minutes at the 2 that should have gone to Young.

Hinrich is a very good PG, but Flip's over reliance on him seem counter productive.

Posted by: bozomoeman | December 27, 2010 3:25 PM | Report abuse

"The big peice to add to the defensive puzzle is Wall, he needs to get up to speed because Hinrich just plain doesn't have the quicks to handle guys like Rose and Parker. Wall starts to play lockdown D and the perimeter D could be the best it's been in years."

Kirk is at a disadvantage against the real speed guys, especially the smart ones like Parker. But I don't know if it's realistic to expect Wall to be primary ballhandler and scorer and then be a 'lockdown' defender. Certainly neither Rose nor Parker do that much.

Posted by: Samson151 | December 27, 2010 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Early in the fourth quarter of the Wizards' loss on Sunday in San Antonio, a fan yelled at Kirk Hinrich as he headed to the scorer's table. "Hey, Kirk. You're the man. Don't let anybody tell you different."

I didn't know he heard me...at least he knew I was joking, but it's sad that he is Flip and Ernie's man?

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | December 27, 2010 3:43 PM | Report abuse

Nick's actually been doing a good job on D. At this point he's better at 1 on 1 defending then knowing when to slide and help, but he's getting better at that all the time.

The Wiz are far from being able to package guys to get an Allstar, so there will be no 3 or 4 for one deals coming down the pike.

I'm still impressed with McGee's progress this year, compare him to last year at the same time, he's made a lot of progress in a year. He has few strikeout games as a rebounder anymore. A center should lead your team in rebounding, and he is. Would love to see that average get up to double digits, but compare it to last year. He's still progressing.

I think some fans see Allstar talent and expect Allstar play from him right now, I see lots of progress from one of the greenest big men to ever come into the league. Seraphin is further along on his fundamentals as a rookie this year then McGee was when he came into the league.

That's what you get in the late first to early second round, developmental projects. Nick Young was one, so was Blatche out of HS, and McGee. That's why finishing in the lottery is part of what the Wizards need to do this year, they need another quality peice to build around. That just seems to be a tough concept for many in DC to except.

Lately Young has shown the most signs of getting it, if he can focus that talent this team could become very strong at guard. Blatche is the one guy that I wonder if he's going to get it. A change in scenary might do his career good, it would be nice if the Wiz can get a useful part in return. But if they don't it was a second round draft pick...
GM

Posted by: flohrtv | December 27, 2010 3:47 PM | Report abuse

At Kentucky Wall could flat out shut guys down and strip them clean in the open floor. Rose was never a defender in college, so I don't think that's really part of his game.

Parker, like Nash is really pretty poor as a defender. It always amused me reading posts on here about Gil's D. Most of the top points cruise on D. Gil was about average amoung the top points as a defender.

Wall on the other hand can use his D to springboard his O. His best asset is that end to end speed. The threat of Wall stripping a guy and running has been enough to see some teams use an extra guy to help bring up the ball. That one threat was forcing teams to change their offense before Wall got hurt.

That's the kind of impact Wall can have on a defense that Hinrich can't...
GM

Posted by: flohrtv | December 27, 2010 3:59 PM | Report abuse

flohr - I hope you realized I was being facetious about trading all those guys for Griffin.

Nobody trades a guy like Griffin, who is in his rookie contract, from a loser team for anything.

He costs next to nothing, puts butts in the seats, sells jerseys and actually gets you on tv once in a while.

Even if you were going to trade him, why would you trade him for a ton of higher paid misfits?

Posted by: Blurred | December 27, 2010 4:20 PM | Report abuse

Can we talk about Larry Brown?
Sometimes I wonder if Sam Cassell is good for John Wall or not...
I'm hoping we can have Celts-Wiz game where KG makes some comments on Blatche's braces!!!
Al Thorton is just uncomfortable to watch.
Next year 24/7 Wiz: The Curse of Lez Boulez continues???

Posted by: nikesupastar05 | December 27, 2010 4:21 PM | Report abuse

don't either. Especially when it's unlikely KH would return to the Wizards after this season.

Posted by: demonj21 | December 27, 2010 3:24 PM | Report abuse

Do you know KH has a contract and is going to get paid 8 mil next year?

Hinrich was brought here to help change the culture both on and off the court.
GM

Posted by: flohrtv | December 27, 2010 3:23 PM | Report abuse

it hasn't helped on the court (7-21) or off the court yet?

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | December 27, 2010 4:44 PM | Report abuse

Don't know about that BF78...

This team has less talent than last year's but is playing harder and is actually starting to play some defense.

Our best player is a rookie, rather than a sociopath who missed the previous 2 seasons.

Our 22 yo center is playing as well in his 3rd, non-contract year (and is getting better), as our previous center did in the best of his 9 seasons.

And even you can admit than Kirk is a far improvement to Earl "the curl" Boykins, right?

Posted by: Blurred | December 27, 2010 4:54 PM | Report abuse

Blurred

Yes he is...

That just goes to show you how sad this organization is...we are settling for a guy just because he is better then a player who shouldn't even be in the NBA?

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | December 27, 2010 5:04 PM | Report abuse

First things first, we will finally win a road game tonight so ML can stop metioning it in every posting. 2 heard EG offering Blatche and a 2011 No1 for Cousins. Don't know if it's a good idea to give away our problem child for someone elses.

Posted by: zack5 | December 27, 2010 5:28 PM | Report abuse

"That's what you get in the late first to early second round, developmental projects."

I think that's mostly what you find once you're outside the lottery. And sometimes before that. Check out picks 11-15 this year:

11. Cole Aldrich, OKC
12. Xavier Henry, Mem
13. Ed Davis, Tor
14. Patrick Patterson, Hou
15. Larry Sanders, Mil

It's definitely a developmental group. Aldrich has been active for 7 games, averaged 8 minutes. Henry has 16 starts but is averaging only 17 minutes and 5-6 points (he's one I thought would produce faster on a weak Grizzly club). Davis got a late start due to injury and has appeared in only 12 games, averaging 19 minutes. Pat Patterson wasn't able to get off the bench in Houston and spent time at Rio Grande Valley in the D-league. Larry Sanders has 8 starts for the Bucks but averages only 15 minutes.

These are all talented players who may eventually be contributors but have yet to make their presence felt. And the way the NBA operates, we have to recognize that a couple of them won't make it at all.

Posted by: Samson151 | December 27, 2010 5:50 PM | Report abuse

That's the kind of impact Wall can have on a defense that Hinrich can't...GM
Posted by: flohrtv"

I think maybe the only player I've seen with comparable impact on defense is Rondo. They're both amazingly disruptive. Based on what we saw early this season, Wall can put real pressure on the ball and if he manages to steal it, take it end to end faster than anyone -- maybe ever.

But is that what the team needs him to do?

Posted by: Samson151 | December 27, 2010 5:55 PM | Report abuse

On the other hand you get a guy like Eric Bledsoe who goes a bit later and winds up contributing right off the bat -- he was ts35's favorite, so kudos on that pick.

Posted by: Samson151 | December 27, 2010 5:58 PM | Report abuse

LOL guys, Kirk has been something of a revelation since the Arenas trade. He really can play the point (he's just under 10 assists during the streak), and he's even scoring some (16 a game). I know it upsets people when he pounds the ball before making the pass, but that's the deliberate game. He's probably hoping his teammates will find their spots...

I think people automatically suspect Kirk because he doesn't look like a b-ball star. He's just not big or fast. You'd have to be a coach to appreciate his contribution. And when Wall returns and his role changes, he'll probably adjust pretty well to that.

Josh Howard is just making his way back, but I think we can feel his positive influence, too. By all reports, we've got three actual adult veterans on the club now, and IMO that's two more than we started with.

Posted by: Samson151 | December 27, 2010 6:04 PM | Report abuse

BTW, this is why LeBron and Bosh went to Miami, and why the league encouraged it...

"The highly anticipated first matchup between the new-look Heat and the defending-champion Lakers drew the highest television rating for an NBA regular-season game on ABC since 2004."

"Miami's 96-80 Christmas win earned a 6.4 fast national rating Saturday. That's up 45 percent over the game in the same window last year, also a matchup between Los Angeles and LeBron James, then with the Cleveland Cavaliers."

"It's the best since a 7.3 for another Heat-Lakers meeting on Christmas six years earlier. ESPN said Monday the Celtics-Magic game on ABC drew a 4.6, up 39 percent from the matchup between the same teams last season."

"The average rating for the three games on ESPN increased 20 percent from a year ago."


Read more: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2010/basketball/nba/12/27/nba.christmas.ratings/index.html#ixzz19M9qaeEw

Posted by: Samson151 | December 27, 2010 6:09 PM | Report abuse

I sure wish Hinrich would hit more 3's in the 4th quarter like he used to do AGAINST the Wizards.

Posted by: Supporter51 | December 27, 2010 6:33 PM | Report abuse

I think people automatically suspect Kirk because he doesn't look like a b-ball star. He's just not big or fast. You'd have to be a coach to appreciate his contribution. And when Wall returns and his role changes, he'll probably adjust pretty well to that.
Posted by: Samson151

I think people's problems with KH are threefold:

First, he was oversold to the fans (shocking, I know), especially as a defensive player. The fans also took what was oversold to them and exaggerated it further. He does bring toughness and a certain peskiness and grittiness on D, and he does know a lot more than most Wizards about how to prepare and how to play D within a team concept. But he's also been burned a bit more than at least I was expecting.

Second, as a PG, he's not terribly exciting. He's not a flashy playmaker, he's not a great penetrator (although he does penetrate), he's not dynamic athletically. What he generally does do is run the offense and hit players with a pass when they're supposed to get it and generally in the way that sets them up properly. Which is a good thing. Nick in particular benefits greatly from playing with PGs who can do that (GA, SL, KH and even Wall). The only thing that has been weird is that he occasionally gets the 'yips' for lack of a better term and just seems to lose the ball when he's dribbling. Very strange.

Third, and probably this was more of a factor early on, is that he's not Player (fill in your favorite player's name here), and people get caught in looking at the things he doesn't do more so than the things he does.

At this point he is what he is. At present, he's a solid pro and stabilizing influence for the youngsters, at least on the court. No idea if he has bonded with the rooks off the court. In terms of the future, he's just a bridge. I don't expect that he's in their long term plans, though with the Wiz, you never know.

Posted by: ts35 | December 27, 2010 6:49 PM | Report abuse

This team has less talent than last year's but is playing harder and is actually starting to play some defense.

Posted by: Blurred | December 27, 2010 4:54 PM | Report abuse

The team had AJ, CB, BTH, Gil, JM, NY, DS so how was the roster at the start of this year less talented then last year?

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | December 27, 2010 6:51 PM | Report abuse

I sure wish Hinrich would hit more 3's in the 4th quarter like he used to do AGAINST the Wizards.

Posted by: Supporter51 | December 27, 2010 6:33 PM

Ain't that the truth! It always seemed like he couldn't miss but maybe that was because we never played defense too :-)

BTW, I think this was the best batch of posts I've ever read on here. Nice discussion between everyone with a lot of good points!

Posted by: LaureninGlenBurnie | December 27, 2010 7:05 PM | Report abuse

"I sure wish Hinrich would hit more 3's in the 4th quarter like he used to do AGAINST the Wizards.Posted by: Supporter51"

Well, the criticism in Chicago was that he sometimes would take and miss the big shot. That pretty much ended when Rose arrived, because all the big shots went to him. Kirk hasn't been asked to do that here.

Posted by: Samson151 | December 27, 2010 7:21 PM | Report abuse

Also he doesn't have the advantage of playing against that spotty Wiz defense...

Posted by: Samson151 | December 27, 2010 7:22 PM | Report abuse

Just had a random, sports-talk radio kind of thought.

Certainly it's still early, but I wonder if this year's Kentucky draftees will be the most successful draft class from one team ever? I was trying to think of some other good ones:

The Fab Five certainly, though they were really only the Fab 3 in the NBA (and Webber left a year ahead, so I suppose that doesn't count).

The one year that 4 Duke players left early (and scarred Coach K for life): Brand, Maggette, Avery, and Langdon. Brand and Maggette have been good, not so much for the other two.

The Runnin Reb's class of Larry Johnson, Stacey Augmon, Greg Anthony and George Ackles.

The UNC class of Felton, Marvin Williams, Sean May, and McCants has also definitely underwhelmed.

The jury is still out on the UConn Gay, Armstrong, Marcus Williams, Josh Boone, Denham Brown class.

Trying to think of some other big one-team drafts.

Posted by: ts35 | December 27, 2010 7:25 PM | Report abuse

"The team had AJ, CB, BTH, Gil, JM, NY, DS so how was the roster at the start of this year less talented then last year?Posted by: bulletsfan78"

I think maybe you answered your own question. Arenas, Jamison, Butler, Stevenson, and Haywood were quality vets but not as good as they were cracked up to be. This year we replaced them with Hinrich, Yi, Thornton, and the youngsters -- some not that good, some not ready, and none having spent much time on the court together. Whereas last season the Wiz underachieved, this season they just weren't very good.

We're a little better now. But not much.

Posted by: Samson151 | December 27, 2010 7:28 PM | Report abuse

Forgot about the Florida '07 class of Horford, Noah, Brewer and Chris Richard. 2 out of 4 so far....

That draft also featured Oden, Conley and Daquean Cook. There wasn't a #4, but it's impressive that they had 3 in the first round, and two in the top 4.

Posted by: ts35 | December 27, 2010 7:38 PM | Report abuse

The draft class that interests me is 2000, which Sports Illustrated called the worst 1st round ever, a 'horrible group'. Kenyon Martin led off, Stromile Swift followed, then Darius Miles, Marcus Fizer... you get the picture. The Wiz' first pick was #35, Mike Smith of UL-Monroe. Best player might have been Michael Redd, who went 45th.

Posted by: Samson151 | December 27, 2010 7:40 PM | Report abuse

Also the odd Arizona class of 2001 with Jefferson, Arenas, Loren Woods and Michael Wright. Odd because 3 of the 4 were taken in the 2nd round.

Posted by: ts35 | December 27, 2010 7:45 PM | Report abuse

The draft class that interests me is 2000, which Sports Illustrated called the worst 1st round ever, a 'horrible group'. Kenyon Martin led off, Stromile Swift followed, then Darius Miles, Marcus Fizer... you get the picture. The Wiz' first pick was #35, Mike Smith of UL-Monroe. Best player might have been Michael Redd, who went 45th.

Posted by: Samson151

It might be the only draft where you could play the first rounders against the second rounders and the second rounders might be favored.

The other interesting things is that the Wizards have had four of the first round picks from that draft on their team. Miller, Etan, DeShawn and Courtney Alexander.

Posted by: ts35 | December 27, 2010 7:50 PM | Report abuse

What he generally does do is run the offense and hit players with a pass when they're supposed to get it and generally in the way that sets them up properly.

I think KH is quite similar to Gil in that he waits and waits and waits to either shoot the ball or make one pass. And that's what our offense boils down to, with rarely more than 2 guys touching the ball per possession. Not necessarily a terrible thing, lots of guards play that way and it can/does work.

But I'm hoping Wall sees the game on that next level up, a few moves ahead, and is more Nash/Rondo than he is Rose/Westbrook.

Posted by: divi3 | December 27, 2010 8:00 PM | Report abuse

"The other interesting things is that the Wizards have had four of the first round picks from that draft on their team. Miller, Etan, DeShawn and Courtney Alexander.
Posted by: ts35"

Yes I noticed that but was too depressed to mention it.

Posted by: Samson151 | December 27, 2010 11:12 PM | Report abuse

They lost to Houston by 7 points, but Hinrich was -14. While Arenas was her, Hinrich's +/- was almost always worse than Gil's. I don't understand the adulation for Hinrich.

Posted by: rw-c | December 28, 2010 10:17 AM | Report abuse

rw-c you mean you ain't got no luv for a pg who goes for 19 pts and 0 assts in a winnable game?

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | December 28, 2010 11:01 AM | Report abuse

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