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Prototype Hinrich Not Slowing Down

Kirk Hinrich
Hinrich tallied 22 points and dished out seven assists in a March win over the Cavaliers.
(Gary Dineen/NBAE Getty Images)
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  • Hinrich Named to All-Rookie First Team
  • Kirk Makes His Point in Rookie Season

    September 10, 2004 -- Just call him the prototype. Why? Because when John Paxson began revamping the Bulls' roster this summer, he was essentially looking for more guys just like Kirk Hinrich. Guys who love the game. Guys who compete. Guys who can’t get enough time in the gym. Guys who do what it takes to win.

    It’s becoming more and more clear that Paxson hit a home run in his first draft as the team’s general manager, selecting Hinrich with the seventh overall pick in last summer’s draft. Now, the young point guard who already seems to have the savvy that takes years to acquire, prepares to enter his second season in the league. Bulls.com caught up with Hinrich after a recent workout to discuss his summer workouts, his impression of the rookies so far and his goals for this season.

    Bulls.com:
    How’s your summer been?

    Kirk Hinrich:
    “Up until last week, I think I had a great summer. It was leaps and bounds better than last summer and hopefully I’ll even be better prepared for this season with a year in the league. I’ve had a better summer so hopefully I’ll have a better year. I just pulled my hamstring last Monday, so I’m trying to slowly get back into my rhythm without pushing it. I just want to be out on the court with the rest of the guys.”

    Bulls.com:
    So your recent injury is just a minor setback?

    Hinrich:
    “Yeah, we’re just trying to rehab the hamstring and work on my upper body for now as I can’t do much with my lower body in the weight room. So I’m rehabbing it and working on keeping my shooting touch while staying in as good of shape as I can without running.”

    Bulls.com:
    Do you have any idea of how long you might have to workout at a lower level due to the hamstring?

    Hinrich:
    “I don’t know, the doctors said 2-6 weeks and it’s been about a week and a half. I’m feeling like I’ll be back and ready to go sometime next week.”

    Kirk Hinrich
    “I’m in [working out] on a regular basis because I want to get better," the second-year point guard says. "There is a lot I can improve on. I want to accomplish a lot and I want us to win."
    Bulls.com:
    How has your routine this summer been different from what you did last summer?

    Hinrich:
    “The main difference is that I can now train whenever I want to. Last summer I was busy traveling all over the place working out for different teams and I didn’t know where I was going to get drafted. Then after the draft you start right away with summer league practices. It’s a tough summer and then you enter a really long season and everything you go through with that. This time around I’m a lot more comfortable because I’ve been here before. I’m also a lot more confident, obviously.”

    Bulls.com:
    Have you been focusing on improving certain aspects of your game?

    Hinrich:
    “I’ve been trying to work on shooting and a lot of the little things. Last year I didn’t shoot that great of a field goal percentage so I want to keep working on my stroke and different areas where I’m finding my shot. Basically I just need to get stronger and better at everything.”

    Bulls.com:
    Did you expect to have the kind of rookie season that you did?

    Hinrich:
    “I really didn’t know what to expect. I just wanted to come in and contribute and help the team. Things got kind of crazy with Coach Cartwright getting fired and a bunch of trades and everything. I was basically just thrown into the mix. Sometimes I was really happy with the way that I played and sometimes I wasn’t. So it was kind of an up and down rollercoaster type season.”

    Bulls.com:
    As you enter your second season, it’s likely that you’ll be looked upon as one of the team leaders. Is that a role you’re ready for?

    Hinrich:
    “I think so. That was also one of my goals last year, even being a rookie. Being so young and new to a team, it’s hard to be a leader in that situation. This year I want to take that role more, especially given the position that I play. Playing point guard, you have to be a leader.”

    Kirk Hinrich
    Hinrich averaged 6.8 apg in his first season, good for 7th in the NBA and first among all rookies.
    Bulls.com:
    You seem to be exactly the kind of player that John Paxson and Scott Skiles want on their roster. Does that have anything to do with the relationship you have with them and the fact that you are in working out so often?

    Hinrich:
    “I’m in here on a regular basis because I want to get better. There is a lot I can improve on. I want to accomplish a lot and I want us to win. So that’s the reason I’m in here. I think they are looking for guys who want to win, guys that aren’t worried about other stuff, they just want to win games.”

    Bulls.com:
    What’s your impression so far of Ben Gordon and Luol Deng?

    Hinrich:
    “I’m impressed. I think that with Ben and Luol, they’re really going to help us. They’re the right kind of guys to have on our team. Hopefully they’ll come in and contribute this year.”

    Bulls.com:
    What do you feel is most important for the team to do in order to win this season?

    Hinrich:
    “We just didn’t have that swagger last season. When you’re in a close game, good teams have a swagger like they know they are going to win the game. We didn’t have it and it was almost like we were scared we were going to lose when we got into tight situations. Hopefully this season we can come out and play with confidence throughout entire games. We’ll win a lot more if we can. We lost so many close games after Coach Skiles took the job and that was really frustrating. I think a lot of it was just a matter of not having the confidence from being there before.”

    Bulls.com:
    Do you have any goals or expectations that you’ve set for yourself or the team?

    Hinrich:
    “For the team, we want to make the playoffs. For me, I just want to have a better year than I did last year. I want to keep improving. I haven’t really said I want to do this or I want to do that, I just want to have a better season and be more consistent.”

    Bulls.com:
    There are so many new faces heading into training camp this fall. What’s your mentality on how to approach it? Is it a matter of trying to get everyone on the same page?

    Hinrich:
    “I think so. A lot of the young guys have been here most of the summer working and getting to know each other’s game a little bit and that helps. Once we get more of the veterans here and get some things going that will be even better. Having Coach Skiles in camp this year will help, too.”

    - Adam Fluck, Bulls.com