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More Ben Gordon, please

That's not just me, it's Vinny:

Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro has a strict mission in mind for a two-game road trip to Dallas and Minnesota, which begins tonight against the Mavericks:

See more of Ben Gordon.

The fifth-year shooting guard missed the first two days of training camp to get his contract settled, then was out for more than a week with a jammed right big toe.

When Gordon finally did play Friday against Utah in Champaign, he scored 23 points, including 13 in the fourth quarter, as the Bulls (1-4) won their only exhibition game to date.

When the same two teams squared off a night later at the United Center, Gordon rested the toe and the Bulls scored 28 fewer points.


"It'll depend on how healthy he is and how much practice he gets in and where we are with the rest of the guys," Del Negro said. "I'm not going to sit here and say I'm never going to start Ben. But really he hasn't played.

"I haven't seen him enough with the starting group to figure out where he can be best used. I know he can score. Obviously, I like his ability to score off the bench and give us a boost. But I'm not sure yet either way."

I didn't catch the 4th quarter of Gordon's preseason debut (where he did most of his damage), but just seeing Gordon back and firing was a welcome sight. We got to see some good (drives to the basket, high % on 3-pointers), and some bad (getting shots blocked), but altogether, it was just good to see someone with obvious talent on the floor besides Derrick Rose.

In the handful of preseason games I've seen thus far (I missed Saturday's game though Gordon sat out of that one...big thanks to Sports2 for putting up a game thread) Gordon's my clear winner in the 'who should start alongside Rose' debate.

And as I said, Gordon wasn't even that great. And it was only one game. But the other candidates have shown mounting evidence of bad. Hughes shouldn't have been in the discussion and only confirmed his awfulness, Thabo has still shown nothing to suggest he'll ever be more than a 4th guard, and Hinrich's only looked good when he's been back at his more suited PG position. Any gains in defense with having a taller SG next to Rose hasn't shown to be worth the major hit on offense. The Bulls should go in the season with this oh-so-short Rose-Gordon backcourt, and if the matchup is a defensive problem, let those adjustments come from the bench.

I think Gordon's only real competition is Hinrich, but I worry this game is rigged. We know Hinrich has the contract, the (reported and highly suspected) love from ownership, and his name gets said in the starting lineups even after Derrick Rose. But Hinrich has not looked like the best two-guard on the team, so it'll be interesting to see if this training camp was to answer questions about the roster, or just act as a formality to give Hinrich another chance to prove himself, whether it makes sense or not.

At least the first half of the Bulls preseason has given some answers in regards to Hinrich and the guard-glut: the team doesn't need him to help ease in Derrick Rose. Rose is already competent enough to start from day one, and is showing enough flashes of greatness to deserve heavy minutes. Hinrich only has long-term value on the roster as an off-guard, but instead of gifting Hinrich the job to help Hinrich play better, the Bulls should instead put the shooter, Ben Gordon, next to Derrick Rose. It's about making Rose the best he can be.