The Chicago Bulls still haven't announced any type of concrete timetable for the return of superstar point guard Derrick Rose. Although his absence is unfortunate for the Bulls, it provides a major boost to backup Kirk Hinrich's fantasy value.
Rose is still recovering from a serious knee injury he suffered in the first game of the playoffs last season. Chicago isn't going to rush back its key player and risk any type of major setback, so expect a conservative pace when it comes to his return.
In the meantime, Hinrich is expected to run the offense and that makes him a terrific target on fantasy draft day. Despite his increased role, he hasn't been generating much attention, meaning owners should be able to get him at bargain value.
Hinrich was never given a chance to play a meaningful role for the Atlanta Hawks over the past season-and-a-half. He averaged just seven points and three rebounds in 48 games last season. Those numbers should see a major boost in a starting role.
The Kansas product averaged 11 points, five assists and four rebounds while also helping in the three-point and steal categories when he received extended playing time for the Bulls three years ago. A return to that level can be expected.
Since the Bulls have so many options on the offensive end from Carlos Boozer to Luol Deng, Hinrich should be able to rack up plenty of assists. He's not an electric player anywhere near the level of Rose, but he's perfectly capable of handling the job in the short term.
That lack of flash is another one of the main reasons he's getting overlooked in fantasy drafts so far. His facilitator role isn't as intriguing to owners as a high-upside rookie, but there's a strong chance his results will be better during his time as a starter.
Although he won't dominate in any single category, his ability to contribute across the board will make him a valuable commodity, especially since there's a lack of depth at the guard positions. Anybody who's expected to receiver starter's minutes is worth a serious look.
One thing to note is that he suffered a groin injury in a preseason game, which has slowed him a bit, but Nick Friedell of ESPN reports it's not considered serious. He might even return in time for the team's final exhibition game.
Knowing that, draft him with confidence as a backup guard. Look for him to average around 12 points and six assists to go along with minor contributions in a couple other categories as well.