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Augustin enjoying a comfort level with the Bulls
by Adam Fluck
Posted on Jan 27
When the Bulls signed D.J. Augustin on Dec. 13, it was a move about needs for both parties involved.
With Derrick Rose out for the season and Kirk Hinrich about to miss the first of five games with a back injury, the Bulls needed a point guard and a scorer. Enter Augustin, who after being let go by the Toronto was searching for a new home in the NBA.
But as Augustin has shown since Bulls GM Gar Forman brought him to Chicago, he’s done a lot more than simply address a need.
Over his last seven games, Augustin has averaged 20.4 points, 5.6 assists, 2.9 rebounds and 1.00 steals per game while shooting 51.6 percent from the floor, 55.3 from three-point range and 85.4 from the free throw line.
“I’m feeling comfortable,” said Augustin on Monday following the team’s morning shootaround.
Augustin admits he didn’t expect to fit in so quickly—he was simply excited about the opportunity to play. But as the games came and went, he quickly picked up the Bulls offense.
Now, he knows the team’s plays and has that familiarity with where his teammates need to be, two critical elements to a point guard’s success. He’s able to play freely, something Augustin said has been made easier with veterans like Joakim Noah, Carlos Boozer and Jimmy Butler.
“As a basketball player, the more minutes you play and the more you’re out there on the floor, the more you get a rhythm,” Augustin explained. “It’s hard to come in the game and play three or four minutes and then come out. It’s tough. But when you’re out there and you feel comfortable and you’re playing freely, just playing basketball, you feel good. Coach [Thibodeau] has done a good job giving me confidence running plays for me and my teammates have been doing the same.”
Since joining the Bulls, Augustin has averaged 30.4 minutes per game. Not coincidentally, the only time in his professional career he’s seen more playing time was in 2010-11 with Charlotte, when he turned in his best statistical season, averaging 14.4 points and 6.1 points over 82 games, all starts.
Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau on Monday applauded Augustin’s decision making and credited him for providing a much-needed boost to the offense.
“Because of his ability to shoot the ball, it opens up a lot of things for us,” said Thibodeau of Augustin. “We can use the pick-and-roll to set up postups; we can use the pick-and-roll to set up catch and shoot. He’s very good in transition, pushing the ball and finding easy baskets. I think he helps guys play to their strengths.”
Thibodeau also said Augustin’s ability to get into the paint has enhanced the Bulls’ three-point shooting.
“[It] forces a defense to collapse and then kick it out and those are rhythm threes,” noted Thibodeau. “Those are good ones; they’re usually coming off the weak side in transition.”
Augustin has been at his best over the last four games, when he has scored 27 or more points on three occasions. In Saturday’s two-point road victory over the Bobcats, Augustin connected on six three-pointers and totaled 28 points. Half of his threes came down the stretch in the 4th quarter.
Augustin says it’s that aforementioned comfort level and his regained confidence which factor into late game success. He’s not afraid to take big shots and the Bulls have put him in a position to do just that.
“Coach wants me to shoot when I come off a pick-and-roll and look to score,” said Augustin. “I’ve always been a pass first point guard, so I’m always looking for my teammates. But he’s always telling me to look to shoot.
“You can’t be scared to make a play when you have the ball in your hands as a point guard,” he added.
Chicago is 14-9 since Augustin joined the team.
“D.J. deserves a lot of credit,” said Thibodeau. “He’s been great for us.”
Audio—Thibodeau talks with reporters as his team prepares for the Timberwolves (01.27.2014):
Audio—Augustin discusses fitting in with the team and his duties as point guard (01.27.2014):
Audio—Timberwolves forward Kevin Love shares his thoughts on Derrick Rose (01.27.2014):