The first edition of NBAhawks sees us examine some of the old-guard of KU Basketball Alumni in the League. I hope to make this a semi-regular feature once the season starts since I know many RCTers are predominantly CBB fans but still enjoy keeping up with NBA happenings. If you've got any input on the sorts of stats and analysis you'd like to see in this space in the future go ahead and put it the comments. Without further adieu:
The longest-tenured Jayhawk in the NBA and last true NBA star produced by the program started 77 games for the Boston Celtics in his 15th professional season with the club. The 35-year-old was the Celtics' leading scorer with 18.6 points per game on 43.6% shooting from the field and 38% shooting from behind the arc. As you might recall, the Celtics were without Rajon Rondo after injuring his knee in January, this effectively ended Boston's run as Eastern Conference contenders a year after narrowly missing out on the 2012 Finals thanks to a herculean effort by LeBron James and the Miami Heat.
Pierce's season was pedestrian by his standards as it looked as if age was finally taking it's toll on the SF, but the stats paint a slightly different picture... In games played with no rest Pierce shot 48% from the field, 42% from downtown while putting up a 21/6/5 line. To contrast, in games played with one, two, and three or more days of rest he shot 43%, 42%, and 41% respectively. With his old-man game he seems to have something left in the tank. The Brooklyn Nets hope he can parlay a change of scenery into an NBA title run after trading for both Pierce and Kevin Garnett over the summer. Pierce will likely split time with Andrei Kirilenko at SF for the Nets as they continue to attempt to bludgeon the NBA Luxury Tax to death. It will certainly be odd seeing Pierce in a Nets jersey after 1102 regular season games suited up for the Celtics... but as we all know, the NBA is a business.
Gooden's 11th year in the league (with his 9th different team) was a very disappointing campaign. The 31-year-old big-man only saw the floor in 16 games for the Bucks as they transitioned into a Larry Sanders-led outfit and subsequently rewarded the young center with a 4-year $44 Million contract extension. The Bucks have used their amnesty clause on Gooden making him a free-agent (but with the Bucks still paying the remainder of his 5-year 32 million dollar deal signed in 2010). He has yet to be picked up, but you'd think that a guy who averaged about 12.5 points and 6.5 rebounds in 25 mpg the two years before a season-long benching would be a decent addition on-the-cheap to some squads.
Kirk returned to the Chicago Bulls organization for the 2012-13 season and played about 30 minutes a night at the point in the absence of Derrick Rose. Tom Thibodeau worked his magic again and the Bulls went 38-22 in Hinrich's 60 starts but only 7-15 without him. The statline is nothing to write home about, but clearly the Bulls were a better team with Hinrich in the lineup. This is backed up by the on/off stats that show the Bulls as having a near-league average offense with Kirk on the court and a bottom-5 unit without him and a defensive rating improvement that makes the Bulls top-4 with him on the floor and 9th or so without him.
Throughout the season Kirk had some injury issues and played through pain, but he was unable to suit-up and missed out on the second round series with the Miami Heat, watching the end of the season from the bench. (It's unknown whether Hinrich's absence in that series was at all related to playing 60 minutes in Game 4 against the Brooklyn Nets, a game where Kirk registered a 18 point, 14 assist, 4 rebound, 3 steal, 1 block line... he didn't play again in that series or the next.) Reports are that he has gotten healthy over the summer and seems excited for Derrick Rose to be back. Hinrich will likely have a reduced role and play some backup PG and SG and perform as a facilitator for the Bulls in the coming season, the role the Bulls ostensibly had in mind for him when he was signed.