It may have happened only thanks to Kirk Hinrich's injury and Thabo Sefolosha's ineptitude, but kudos to Vinny Del Negro for finally getting his best scorer in his starting lineup on Saturday night in Chicago.
Ben Gordon made his first start of the season at two-guard for the Bulls against Cleveland last night, and he didn't disappoint offensively: 29 points on 10-of-19 shooting from the field and 8-of-9 from the foul line in a 106-97 loss.
I'm no Gordon fan, but having the guy keep coming off the bench for this Bulls team confuses me.
We've gone over my problems with Gordon before, so here's the short-short version: Outside of his scoring, he contributes very little. He isn't a good ball-handler, passer or rebounder. He is undersized as an off-guard at 6-foot-3, and as a result, he is a defensive liability. In a league where scoring swingmen aren't exactly unheard of, the idea of locking a player like Gordon up for big money in the long term doesn't excite me too much.
But what they guy can undoubtedly do is score the basketball. He averages 18 points per game for his career, and he has never shot below 40 percent from the three-point line in a season, which is a big part of the reason he has a career true shooting mark of 55 percent. Ben Gordon can score, and he can do so with efficacy.
On a Bulls team renowned for its lack of inside finishing or overall scoring punch, that ability to light it up is a major asset. It seems from here that Gordon is a whole lot more useful than an out-of-position Kirk Hinrich is at the two, and Thabo Sefolosha isn't playing the rest of the game well enough to offset the fact that he is contributing next to nothing from a scoring perspective (3.7 points per game on 36.4 percent field-goal shooting thus far this season).
Gordon averages nearly starter minutes off the bench, and having him on the floor next to rookie sensation Derrick Rose clearly gives the Bulls their most dynamic backcourt combination. Here's guessing he reestablishes himself as a permanent starter in Del Negro's lineup sooner rather than later.