Let me start off by saying this: DJ Augustin has made a fool of me and many others. I thought this was a bad signing, but I’m glad I was completely and totally wrong. Without DJ Augustin, the Bulls would probably be around .500 and fighting for the sixth seed in the East. That’s not a misprint. He’s swung that many games with his scoring, his passing, his natural tendency to attack the rim, and basically be “D-Rose Lite.” It’s helped the Bulls offense restore it’s identity and has been invaluable. This article is not meant to devalue any of that. I love DJ Augustin and ideally, I want him to stick around. But is it the correct basketball decision?
Rumor has it that this really good player is considering re-joining the Bulls next year. His name: Derrick Rose. A former MVP. The style he played is very similar to DJ Augustin’s only on steroids. D-Rose is more athletic, bigger, stronger, more aggressive near the rim, but they are very similar in the way they approach the game. That was pre-ACL, pre-meniscus Derrick Rose. Will he be the same? We won’t know until we see him. Offensively, the attack would be marvelous to watch. Can you imagine both DJ and Derrick penetrating, driving/dishing, attacking the rim, and basically allowing guys like Butler, Dunleavy, Snell, and maybe Mirotic open threes around the perimeter? Sounds enticing doesn’t it? DJ Augustin has also shown the ability to knock down open threes and spot up. Derrick showed that same tendency earlier this year. (And he should – he’s been shooting idle jumpshots for two years now) I think they would mesh incredibly well on offense with Derrick playing more off the ball and becoming the defacto shooting guard.
Defensively is my main concern. Derrick Rose stands all of 6’3 and DJ Augustin is 6’0 at best. We’ve seen issues with DJ’s defensive ability this year, but mainly just his height. D-Rose didn’t look like the same aggressive defender we had seen in the past, but he also had missed 18 months. He only played ten games this year and we never saw it back. Is that something he will get back? I think so, but we never really got to see Derrick shake the rust off. Playing for Team USA will help with that since, according to D-Rose himself, he doesn’t play pickup in the summer. I guess that means even if he’s had two years off, which makes little sense to me and is a disservice to the Bulls and himself. Playing with Team USA and the best players in the world will allow him to shake off that rust and find that rhythm before preseason. It should give him a leg up on the 2014-15 season.
If Derrick Rose can play defense similar to how he had before, there is another good sign: When DJ Augustin/Kirk Hinrich share the court, the Bulls are only -1 compared to their best lineup (the starting lineup for most of the year with Mike Dunleavy) per basketball-reference.com. Also, backing up DJ and Derrick would ideally be Jimmy Butler, Taj Gibson, and Joakim Noah, all of whom could be argued in some capacity for defensive player of the year this year. All three of them are elite defenders and can likely cover up some deficiencies DJ or D-Rose might have.
Ultimately, I hope the Bulls resign DJ if the price is right. The Bulls should have the flexibility to do so and need to make a choice if they’re going after Carmelo or not. I say no and in fact, with the Bulls roster as-is, two mid-1st round picks, D-Rose coming back, maybe Mirotic, and DJ Augustin’s offensive brilliance, that might be enough to win a title without sacrificing the Bulls identity. Chemistry in the NBA is about having pieces that fit. And I think that DJ Augustin and Derrick Rose are pieces that would fit.