Making the Case: Rip Hamilton

The NBA is nigh my friends, I can smell it.  It is fumigating around us like Paul Pierce’s breath around an “in your face” defender.  Its storylines growing stronger like the European b-0 of Peja Stojakovic that no stick of NBA RightGuard can fix.  Its more exciting than a Stacey King called game, or a Blake Griffin dunk (put that on your Facebook wall baby!). 

Needless to say, I’m excited.  

So instead of watching the same episode of NBA GameTime four times in a row, I decided to start a reoccurring post where I will try to make a case for, or against different pieces of news from The League.

So with no further adieu, I would like to ask Rip Hamilton to come to the stand.

On my drive home tonight I listened to the local Chicago sports radio stations ponder why Dwight Howard was being a complete “cotton headed ninny muggins” (seemed festive).  Caller after caller asked, “Why wouldn’t you come play with the best point guard in the league?”, or, “Has he studied some of the best teams in the history of the league?  They all have amazing guard/big combos.”

While I agree with these comments (and went on a bit of tirade about it myself), my sometimes zealous friend, and writer for this site said something that stuck with me through the rain and Chicago traffic. 

“We don’t need him.  We got Rip, BABY!”

While I snickered at the notion that a 33-year old, 12-year veteran could push a team full of anxious and talented young stars over the edge more than the most dominant center in the NBA; I couldn’t help but begin to think about that idea…

Rip Hamilton giving Derrick and company the little push they need to get past the Heat?  Rip Hamilton??? Rip Hamilton… RIP HAMILTON!  Why couldn’t he, BABY?!

When you look at last years Bulls team, two things come to my mind as to why they made it to the Eastern Conference Finals, ultimately losing to the Heat: 1. They are defensively better than you.  They will beat you with team-defense, team defense, and more team defense.  They will not quit.  You can be the best offensive player the game has ever seen; it won’t matter.  You may be quicker, and you may be stronger; but if you beat one of them, you can bet your sweet ass that you will be surrounded by three others very quickly.  What’s more is that they take this tremendous defensive identity one step further: they all recover back to their man better than anyone else in the league.  A major aspect of a defensive game plan that you never see in the box score, or hear about on SportsCenter. 2. Derrick Rose carried that team on his back in every way, shape, and form for 76 -77 games last year; only falling a little short after suffering from what looked like a bad case of the “Flame outs” (yes, that is a medical term).

He ultimately needed someone to take some of that load from him; a headline that has been burried into the ground. 

While a healthy, slender, and hopefully more “jumpy” Carlos Boozer and a more stout Luol Deng will be able to contribute to helping relieve Derrick of this boulder in 2011-2012, the Bulls NEEDED a pure-shooter that didn’t kill them defensively (sorry Ashton…er Kyle Korver).  They needed a veteran on the floor with them at the start of every game and in crunch time (again, sorry Scal). 

That man has to be Rip, right? 

Hamilton is a career .45% shooter.  He has averaged 17.7 points in 12 years of NBA basketball (18.2 points in 08-10, when he was still a semi-happy Detroit Piston).  Offensively, he doesn’t need to touch the ball every trip down the court.  He is as selfish as Tim Tebow at a soup kitchen; and he has been known for working harder than any other player in the league to get open off of screens (an art that has been dismissed in this new NBA).  Rip simply wears out his defender and he never stops.  After he’s run you through 50 gruesome blind side screens, you know he’s going to run you through 50 more and there is nothing any defender can do to stop it.

Yes he was a bit of a cancer in Detroit the past few years.  But lets all be honest, so would you if you were a former NBA Champion and your GM spent the amount of money he did on terrible free agents Charlie Villanueva and Ben Gordon (THANKS JOE DUMARS!). 

And for those of you that will argue that he is washed up and old, take a walk to your local YMCA.  Walk in the door, check in with the front desk.  If you’re not a member of the “Y”, tell them you are interested in joining and want to look around; mainly at their basketball facilities.  Now, see that old man hitting three, after three, after three; all the while keeping his man in front of him on defense?  That’s Rip Hamilton on his worst day. 

The last thing to go for an NBA player is his shot.  Don’t believe me?  How about this food for thought.  There is an amazing story about Steve Kerr in Chris Ballard’s book The Art of a Beautiful Game.  In it, Ballard writes about how Kerr, who had not shot a basketball, let alone an NBA three pointer for a good amount of time, was challenged by Ballard to shoot 25 three pointers.  On his first try, Kerr knocked down 21 of 25.  For those of you that think that would be easy for any pro, that number would have been good enough to beat every contestant in the 2011 Foot Locker Three-Point Contest during All-Star Weekend. 

Oh, and did I mention Rip is a career 35% three-point shooter as well?  For comparison sake, Reggie Miller was a 39.8% three point shooter and he is widely renowned as one of the best of all time. 

See what I’m getting at here Bulls fans?  Even if Rip gives the Bulls 66-75 games (the last three years he averaged 56, so adding an extra ten to twenty games for a happy Hamilton is not unreasonable) at 15 points per game would be five points more per game than the Bulls were already getting from Keith Bogans and Ronnie Brewer, COMBINED.

No, Rip Hamilton may not be a sexy pick and the signing might be overshadowed by the Dwight Howard drama and CP3 trade negotiations; but it is a great signing for the Bulls to make the final push over the hypothetical hump.  He will provide D-Rose with another option on offense; all the while creating better looks for the known slasher that is Luol Deng.  He may not be fresh, he may not be the star he was, but I would bet the house that he brings the heart, passion, and veteran wherewithal that was missing from last years Bulls team.

Case closed.

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