'Survivor' Duhon Makes Presence Felt

By McGraw, Mike | Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), March 11, 2005 | Go to article overview

'Survivor' Duhon Makes Presence Felt


McGraw, Mike, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)


Byline: Mike McGraw Daily Herald Sports Writer

For anyone who would like to imagine the NBA without guaranteed player contracts, step into the world of Chris Duhon.

The rookie guard was labeled a disappointment by many observers because he left high school as one of the nation's hottest recruits and entered the NBA as a second-round draft pick after four years at Duke.

But Duhon remained confident in his ability and made a gutsy decision last summer that should pay off handsomely.

When the Bulls acquired guards Frank Williams and Mike Wilks in trades last year, they softly suggested to Duhon that he consider playing a season in Europe. Duhon was impressive during summer league, but the team wasn't sure a roster spot would be available.

So Duhon asked the Bulls for the opportunity to earn a job and signed a one-year, non-guaranteed deal for $385,000. Keep in mind, if it didn't pan out, Duhon would likely be riding buses in the NBDL right now.

Instead, he has started 49 consecutive games for the Bulls. In a few weeks, Duhon might accomplish a rare feat - starting at point guard in the NBA playoffs as a rookie.

"Chris, for lack of a better word, you could probably call him a survivor," Bulls general manager John Paxson said. "A lot of these guys, given those odds, would fold.

"Chris can always say nothing was handed to him. He had to beat out guys with guaranteed money and he did. We're a better team because of it."

The Bulls released Wilks in training camp, and he hooked on with San Antonio. Williams has been with the Bulls all season but rarely plays.

Duhon, meanwhile, averages 25.5 minutes per game, leads all rookies in assists (4.9) and ranks 17th in the league in assist-to- turnover ratio (3.05). In victories over Milwaukee and Portland this week, Duhon piled up 16 assists and 1 turnover, while hitting 5 of 9 shots from 3-point range. …

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