Chicago Bulls: DJ Augustin

Bulls player reviews: D.J. Augustin

May, 6, 2014
May 6
9:00
AM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
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D.J. AugustinAP Photo/John RaouxD.J. Augustin often brought the spark the Bulls needed after they signed him in December.

D.J. Augustin

2013-14 salary: $650,215 | Age: 26 | Season stats: 13.1 PPG, 4.4 APG.

Season recap: Augustin was described many times as a "season-saver" by Chicago Bulls teammates and coaches after being picked up off waivers from the Toronto Raptors in December. He was the offensive spark plug the Bulls needed after losing Derrick Rose to another knee injury. Chicago leaned on Augustin offensively throughout the regular season, and he usually delivered down the stretch.

Season highlight: The diminutive point guard scored a career-high 33 points, 15 in the fourth quarter, in a victory over the Boston Celtics on March 30.

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Season lowlight: Aside from a solid stretch in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals against the Washington Wizards, Augustin was a non-factor in the series. He did not hit shots and was bothered by the Wizards' size. Taking out his 10-for-22 performance in Game 2, Augustin was just 11-for-50 in the rest of the series.

Final grade: A-minus.

Notes: Augustin fit in well with his new teammates and thrived in a system where he was given confidence again. As Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau said many times throughout the season, Augustin and the Bulls found each other at the right time.

Quotes: "He's been great," Noah said of Augustin in late March. "I'm really happy that he's part of this team. As soon as he came in he fit in right away. He's a laid-back guy, quiet guy, but he's a hell of a competitor. Plays well in the big moment. We wouldn't be in this position right now if it wasn't for him."

What's next? Augustin reiterated last week that he wants to stay in Chicago next season. The question will be whether he priced himself out of the Bulls' range. Chicago general manager Gar Forman acknowledged how much the organization likes Augustin -- but the Bulls aren't going to break the bank to sign him. If he wants big money, he'll probably have to look elsewhere.

D.J. Augustin, Joakim Noah shine again

March, 30, 2014
Mar 30
10:36
PM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
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BOSTON -- Joakim Noah has said several times already that D.J. Augustin's presence has saved the Chicago Bulls' season.

Noah also said he doesn't believe he would have made the All-Star team for the second consecutive season had it not been for the fact Augustin was claimed off waivers in December from the Toronto Raptors ... and has played All-Star caliber offensive basketball ever since.

[+] EnlargeD.J. Augustin
AP Photo/Michael DwyerEven his Bulls teammates and coaches have been pleasantly surprised at how effective D.J. Augustin has been at the point since being claimed off waivers in December.
That's why it should come as no surprise that Noah, the emotional leader of a reborn Bulls team, happily gave Augustin a hard time after the veteran point guard scored a career-high 33 points, including 15 in the fourth quarter, during the Bulls 107-102 victory over the Boston Celtics on Sunday night.

"He's been great," Noah said of Augustin. "I'm really happy that he's part of this team. As soon as he came in he fit in right away. He's a laid-back guy, quiet guy, but he's a hell of a competitor. Plays well in the big moment. We wouldn't be in this position right now if it wasn't for him."

It's becoming a common occurrence for Bulls' players and coaches to sing Augustin's praises after games.

While the rest of the league seems to have forgotten how solid Augustin could be offensively, he never wavered in feeling he could still be a high-level player. His confidence was shaken when he came to Chicago, but it wasn't broken.

"I believe in myself, man," Augustin said. "I'm a basketball player. I always thought of myself as a pretty good basketball player. I think everybody on this level is pretty good or you wouldn't be in the NBA. Just having confidence in myself, my teammates giving me confidence, and just feeling comfortable."

Augustin and Noah have formed an unlikely dynamic duo for the Bulls in the midst of what was thought to be a lost season when Derrick Rose went down with another season-ending injury and Luol Deng was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Augustin continues to hit big shots, and Noah continues to make plays all over the floor.

It's not a surprise that head coach Tom Thibodeau praised those two first after another hard-fought win. In their own way, both men have become closers on a team that didn’t appear to have any when Rose went out in November.

"He's done it all year," Thibodeau said of Augustin. "He's a big fourth-quarter scorer. Big shot after big shot. I thought Jo made a lot of good plays. We had a lot of guys step up. We didn't play our best, we found a way to win. So we'll take it."

That's the beauty of Sunday's win for the Bulls: Thibodeau and his players know they could play much better, yet they still found a way to beat the beleaguered Celtics.

The difference, as it has been throughout the last three months, is that Thibodeau has found a rhythm within the closing lineup of Kirk Hinrich, Jimmy Butler, Taj Gibson, Augustin and Noah. The coach trusts those five to lock down games for him, and he has gone to them repeatedly down the stretch in games.

Augustin and Noah continue to lead the way, but that group has created the type of mentality within itself that teams are having trouble beating.

"When you play to each other's strengths, good things are going to happen," Thibodeau said. "Taj has also been very efficient in the fourth quarter. So D.J. is probably our most efficient, and then Taj is probably is the second most efficient. Then Jo is the playmaker.

"Then the other guys have to do their job. Kirk is great. It gives us the option, we can run the offense through D.J. or run it through Kirk, and we can put D.J. in different situations.

"And then Jimmy's the wild card. Jimmy does everything. You don't want to take Jimmy off the floor. He's the catalyst, he guards everybody, moves extremely well without the ball. You leave him open, he's going to make you pay. He plays with a lot of toughness on every play, and we need that."

If the Bulls are going to rack up wins in the playoffs, they're going to need that group to continue to set the tone -- with Augustin at the front of the offensive charge. His teammates and coaches knew he could be good, but even they seem a little surprised at just how great he has been in spots this season.

"We had played him early in his career and he had played pretty well against us," Noah said. "But I never knew he would be this effective but ... I think nobody did. Otherwise I think he'd be playing somewhere [else].

"I'm just happy he's with the Bulls. I think he found a home here, and I hope he can stay for a long time."

Opening Tip: Taj Sixth Man Worthy?

January, 23, 2014
Jan 23
9:00
AM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
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CLEVELAND -- Taj Gibson isn't a boastful type of guy. He plays hard, he plays to win and he plays to back up his teammates. He proved that again in Wednesday night's 98-87 victory against Cleveland, scoring a career-high 26 points and making 11 of his 15 attempts from the field.

Gibson's solid play has been a key to the Chicago Bulls' recent resurgence and it's a reason why the veteran forward admits he would like to be in the running for the Sixth Man of the Year award.

[+] EnlargeTaj Gibson
David Richard/USA TODAY SportsBulls forward Taj Gibson is hoping his play will garner some votes for the Sixth Man of the Year award.
"I'd like to think so," Gibson said. "I'd like to look at ... a sixth man as a guy who helps the team in any kind of situation. I play defense, I rebound, do a lot of different things to help my team. I'm not just looking at scoring, even though my scoring has improved.

"It's all about helping your team. And that's why I look at being the sixth man as a guy that chips in, does it all, not just score."

Gibson is averaging a career high 11.7 points this season and continues to garner praise from his teammates and coaches.

Toko looking for time: New acquisition Tornike Shengelia didn't see any action in Wednesday's game, but he is happy to be playing for the Bulls after being dealt from the Brooklyn Nets for Marquis Teague.

Shengelia described his game this way after Wednesday morning's shootaround.

"Real physical," he said. "I can penetrate. I'm working on my shot. I can play 3, 4. I can post up, penetrate, pass the ball."

As for his thoughts on the Bulls, Shengelia was impressed from afar.

"They had a lot of energy," he said. "It doesn't matter if they're up [or not], they're fighting. That's the type of team I like, the type of player I am."

Augustin stepping up: D.J. Augustin scored 19 of his 27 points in the second half and is continuing to play well as the Bulls face going without Kirk Hinrich (hamstring) for an extended length of time.

Like his teammates, Augustin is just happy to be in a good situation.

"Just going out there and just having fun," he said of his mindset. "Playing free, doing what Coach wants me to do, and I'm playing with great guys. So they make it easy for me."

The last word: Gibson, on the trash talk between Deng and his former teammates:

"Oh, yeah, it was a lot of trash talk. At one point I switched on him and was like, ‘Lu, I know every move you want to do. I know you want to pump fake and make me jump in the air. I know all your moves.’ Next play, he’s like, ‘All right. I’m going to turn it up. I’m about to play even harder.’ I’m like, ‘Wow, Lu.’ But it was just crazy trash talk. But it was good."

Augustin almost goes the distance for Bulls

December, 21, 2013
12/21/13
10:45
PM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- D.J. Augustin got his indoctrination into Tom Thibodeau-style basketball with the Chicago Bulls on Saturday night. After playing 46 minutes, 24 seconds in a 100-84 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers, Augustin had to leave the game because he had a cramp in his hamstring. Such is life when you're playing for one of the most demanding -- and successful -- coaches in the league. After all that Augustin and the Bulls have been through over the past couple weeks, the veteran guard happily gutted a great performance out.

[+] EnlargeAugustin
David Banks/USA TODAY SportsIn the span of two weeks, D.J. Augustin went from a backup for the Toronto Raptors to the Bulls' starting point guard.
"It's hard," Augustin admitted after scoring 18 points, dishing out 10 assists and grabbing 5 rebounds. "Your body's not ready for that."

In the span of two weeks, Augustin has gone from a little-used backup for the Toronto Raptors to the starting point guard for a Bulls team that has been in disarray because of injuries. In the process, Augustin has solidified his position as the backup point guard of the near future for the Bulls. He has been able to run the offense, knock down shots and get his teammates involved -- all the things that Thibodeau has been searching for in a point guard since Derrick Rose went down Nov. 22.

"He's been great, just the way he plays," Thibodeau said. "He plays with a lot of poise. There's a good pace to him. He knows how to read things really well. He reads when guys are coming off screens and being defended. He has the ability to pass on time and on target. He has guys in rhythm."

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Rapid Reaction: Bulls 100, Cavaliers 84

December, 21, 2013
12/21/13
9:28
PM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- Let's take a quick look at how the Chicago Bulls earned a 100-84 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday night at the United Center.

How it happened: D.J. Augustin played 46 minutes in this one, while scoring 18 points, dishing out 10 assists and grabbing five rebounds. Carlos Boozer added 19 points and nine rebounds while Tony Snell chipped in with 17 points, as the Bulls played without Kirk Hinrich (back stiffness), Luol Deng (Achilles) and Jimmy Butler (ankle). Andrew Bynum led the Cavs with 19 points and seven rebounds.

What it means: After struggling for weeks, the Bulls' offense finally put together a solid performance Saturday night. The key for coach Tom Thibodeau is that Augustin has solidified his backup point guard spot. The veteran, who was picked up a little more than a week ago, got his teammates involved in the offense and confidently knocked down shots. With Marquis Teague still struggling, Augustin has given the Bulls a consistent option and should get plenty of minutes, even when Hinrich returns.

Hits: The Bulls were 10-for-15 from beyond the arc.

Misses: The Bulls turned the ball over 21 times.

Stat of the night: The Bulls shot 53.6 percent from the field.

What's next: The Bulls have a few days off before traveling to face off against the Brooklyn Nets on Christmas day.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Derrick Rose
PTS AST STL MIN
15.9 4.3 0.5 31.1
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Noah 11.3
AssistsJ. Noah 5.4
StealsJ. Butler 1.9
BlocksJ. Noah 1.5