Bulls’ D.J. Augustin ready for whatever comes his way
BY JOE COWLEY Staff Reporter December 22, 2013 8:48PM
D.J. Augustin is averaging 13.7 points, eight assists and 2.3 rebounds since entering the Bulls’ starting lineup. | Getty Images
A LOOK BACK
D.J. Augustin finds himself starting at point guard while starter Derrick Rose recovers from a knee injury. Coincidentally, both were top-10 picks in the 2008 draft:
1. Derrick Rose, BULLS
2. Michael Beasley, Heat
3. O.J. Mayo, Timberwolves
4. Russell Westbrook, SuperSonics
5. Kevin Love, Grizzlies
6. Danilo Gallinari, Knicks
7. Eric Gordon, Clippers
8. Joe Alexander, Bucks
9. D.J. Augustin, Bobcats
10. Brook Lopez, Nets
Updated: January 24, 2014 6:22AM
When the Bulls claimed guard D.J. Augustin off waivers from the Toronto Raptors less than two weeks ago, the hope was he could come off the bench and be a Nate Robinson type of player for a team badly in need of scoring.
Who could have guessed he would be just as good as Derrick Rose was this season?
Now before the uproar begins, take into account the sample size. In the 10 games Rose played in before he tore the meniscus in his right knee, he was averaging 15.9 points on 35 percent shooting, 4.3 assists and 3.2 rebounds. In the three games Augustin has started, he has averaged 13.7 points on 50 percent shooting, eight assists and 2.3 rebounds. The Bulls averaged 93.2 points with Rose and are averaging 96.3 with Augustin.
And while Rose and Augustin never will be mistaken for equals during the course of a full season, there’s no doubt Augustin can help a Bulls team that was drowning.
‘‘He’s getting a shot to play big minutes, and this game is all about confidence and rhythm,’’ Bulls center Joakim Noah said of Augustin, a first-round pick out of Texas in 2008. ‘‘I think he’s getting into a rhythm, getting comfortable knowing people’s tendencies. He’s aggressive, looking to shoot, and we need that out of him.’’
They needed something. Kirk Hinrich once again has found himself on the shelf, fighting a back problem, and Marquis Teague looks like a player who has lost his confidence. In Augustin, though, the Bulls finally might have stumbled on to something.
‘‘I know how the NBA is — it’s a business,’’ Augustin said. ‘‘But I’m the type of person that I don’t get down on myself. I keep working hard because you never know what can happen. The situation in Toronto, I didn’t get down on myself. Then I came here, and I’ve been playing a lot. I think if I would have gotten down on myself, when I came here, I wouldn’t have been ready to play.’’
He was ready. Just like he was when he was drafted ninth overall by the Charlotte Bobcats in 2008. He averaged 11.8 points as a rookie and 14.4 points and 6.1 assists in his third season.
The Indiana Pacers thought they got a steal when they signed him for the 2012-13 season, but he never really fit in with them. Then he averaged only 8.2 minutes before being waived by the Raptors this season.
That’s when the injury-depleted Bulls pounced. And it took him only three games — along with Hinrich’s injury — to become a starter.
‘‘Great, great,’’ coach Tom Thibodeau said of Augustin. ‘‘He plays with a lot of poise. There’s a good pace to him. He knows how to read things very well. He has guys in rhythm, which I think is important.’’
And who knows? With Hinrich a free agent after this season and Rose a question mark because of his injuries, maybe Augustin will have some staying power with the Bulls.
‘‘I always hated playing against the Bulls,’’ Augustin said. ‘‘It’s a grind-it-out team, and they’re going to play hard every night. They’re going to fight you and be tough. I hated playing against them, and now I love being a part of it.’’