Player Lock: Kirk Hinrich, a double-double delight | Wizards Blog Truth About

Player Lock: Kirk Hinrich, a double-double delight

Updated: November 17, 2010

With John Wall sitting out for the first time in his young career, Kirk Hinrich moved over to the point position and played 39 minutes of rock solid basketball against the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday night in a Wizards 109-94 win. Displaying the attention to detail that allows him to impact games despite average athleticism and skill level, Hinrich routinely made the hard rotation, the sharp pass, and the clever read on his way to a double-double delight — a 13 point, 12 assist, four rebound and two turnover performance.

On back-to-back plays in the first quarter, just four minutes into the game, Hinrich made a pretty move to split two defenders and finish, then made a smart rotation and was able to give Reggie Evans a hard foul– preventing a dunk and sending the career 52% free throw shooter to the line (where he made one shot). The 20-second exchange summarized a night in which Hinrich made more flashy plays than usual, while also contributing the gritty, intelligent veteran plays that have kept him in the league.

Hinrich worked effectively in side pick-and-rolls, scoring three times by refusing the screen and either hopping laterally for a mid-range pull up or attacking the basket. In transition, Hinrich made a number of touch passes for easy finishes—he doesn’t replicate or even approximate Wall’s end-to-end speed, but the results were similar: two points for the Wizards. With the inexperienced Sonny Weems or diminutive Jose Calderon checking him for much of the night, the big veteran guard controlled the tempo throughout the game. The Wizards got off to a hot offensive start, in no small part because Hinrich was able to hand out four assists in the first quarter alone. Playing the awful Raptors’ defense didn’t hurt either.

Despite his enormous impact on the game, Hinrich’s subtle double-double is best understood by way of contrast to Nick Young. Young, who scored 20 points on 10-15 shooting, was the local broadcast’s interview subject at the end of the first half and in the locker room following the game. His impressive individual efforts on the offensive end were easy to appreciate. Young hit on a number of catch-and-shoot opportunities and even tossed in a couple of pull up Js before punctuating his night with a terrific fast break dunk. But in 30 minutes of run, Young contributed almost nothing other than hot shooting (well, he did pull down a career-high defensive six rebounds — Toronto’s woeful shooting made that pretty easy).

On a number of occasions, Young went over a screen he should have gone under, or got victimized by an aggressive, driving Raptor. Each time he received the ball, his one mission was to score, which he did well. However, with the Wizards passing the ball in the half court as well as they have all season, even Young’s successful individual forays seemed to stem the offensive the flow (he failed to notch even one assist). Simply put, his awareness level, both offensively and defensively, is atrocious. Despite his apparent contributions, the Wizards were minus-6 with Young on the court. I know plus/minus can be deceiving, but Young played 30 meaningful minutes in a blowout– this was no effect of a garbage time let down.

Meanwhile, the communicative Hinrich was plus-20, good for second best on the night. He needed only eight shots to get 13 points, including a great momentum sustaining layup off a one-on-one drive to finish the third quarter. This isn’t to say Hinrich played a perfect game. His jumper still needs more lift, and his flat shot fell woefully short on a couple wide open three point attempts. He also had some icky turnovers in the fourth quarter, though by then the game was well in hand.

But Captain Kirk showed how he earned his badge last night, excelling in all those little things a young team typically lacks. He played nearly as well as he can, and contributed all over the court while using vocal leadership to organize the troops on both ends of the floor. Young may have received the attention, but Hinrich receives my vote for ‘Player of the Night’.

Beckley Mason

  • Eric

    Captain Kirk? Love it.

    With him and Arenas at Guard last night, it was like Veteran’s Day all over again. Both orchestrated the offense well (set plays! no iso’s!) and it was a joy to be at Verizon Center last night. Great Win!

  • Kirk Hinrich is a solid player, not sure why he hasn’t blended with John Wall yet, when he was in Chicago, he played well with Derrick Rose.

    If Hinrich, Wall and Gilbert Arenas can be on the same page, Washington has enough talent up front to win some games, should be interesting how this develops over the year.

  • I think Hinrich may better blend when paired with another guard who can shoot.

    But with Wall, or Rose, and their lack of shooting combined with Hinrich’s inconsistency from range, I guess teams can afford to fall back a bit more.

  • Beckley Mason

    I agree with Kyle here. I don’t think Rose and Hinrich were a great pairing, especially because Hinrich often played the point when the two were on the court. Wall has more natural point guard passing instincts, so if Hinrich wants to be effective in a three guard line up, he really needs to improve his spot up shooting. Last night, he was running the show, and it looked great, but Wall still does it better.

  • Jay Carlyle

    “…despite average athleticism and skill level”? This is absurd. Hinrich is an awesome athlete, even by NBA standards. Stop stereotyping.

  • C’mon Jay, Hinrich is going to turn 30 on January 2nd … do you really think, at this point, his athleticism is anything above average?

    Sure, he is an awesome athlete, but you really can’t reasonably say he’s not average in comparison to some of the best athletes in the league.

  • Jay Carlyle

    Who are the best athletes in the league? Probably Lebron, Wade, Rondo, Josh Smith, perhaps a handful of others. Sure, in comparison to this elite class of athletes, Hinrich, especially at this point in his career, would seem average. But Kyle Korver he is not. When the guy shows up, he’s capable of making plays all over the court, and he never has been, and never will be, the three point specialist that people expect him to be when they first observe his fair hue. Even at 29, I consider him an above-average athlete in the NBA.

  • Beckley Mason

    I agree the Hinrich’s game defies stereotype, but explosive he is not. Hinrich is a decent athlete, but he’s really long and understands angles, allowing him to be an effective defender. Offensively, he uses his size more than his quicks to penetrate, though his game is the one dribble pull up off of a hand off. But here’s the deal, a guy can have all the athleticism in the world, but it’s really about functional ability for Hinrich. He uses long strides and timing to make up for pure emeritus end speed.
    I also disagree with your assessment of his j… anyone can become a better shooter, just look at Jason Kidd. Hinrich is a good player now, but could be a better fit with the Wizards (and Wall) long term if he raised his spot up shooting percentages.
    Thanks for the comments!IN

  • Robert

    I agree about Nick Young. I love watching him heat up and I really want to root for him but when his jumper’s not falling he really doesn’t contribute much.