As a freshman at Kansas, Hinrich led the team in assists with the single-season sum of 123, which was the fourth most ever by a Kansas freshman. In his sophomore year at Kansas, Hinrich totaled 229 assists, which was the fourth-best single-season mark in Kansas Jayhawk history. He averaged 6.9 assists (8th in nation) and established a school record with a .505 three-point shooting mark, leading the Big 12. Hinrich also led the team in steals.
Hinrich was voted onto the "All-Big 12 Second Team" (by the Associated Press) and awarded the " All Third Team" status (coaches). He was also named to the "Big 12 All-Improved Team" and won the "Clyde Lovellette Most Improved Player Award." In his junior year with Kansas, he helped lead the Jayhawks to the Final Four, and was voted onto the "All-Big 12 Second Team" (for both coaches and media). He also earned Kansas’ "Ted Owens Defensive Player Award." He topped the team in free throw shooting and three-point shooting (also led Big 12 in the latter), while ranking second in assists (5.0 apg), minutes played (30.9 mpg) and third in scoring and steals. In his senior year with the Jayhawks, Hinrich helped Kansas get to the NCAA Championship Game and was named the NCAA Tournament Midwest Region's "Most Outstanding Player." He ranked second on the team in scoring (fourth in the Big 12), led team in three-pointers made, along with 3.5 assists (second on team), 3.9 rebounds and 1.9 steals a game.
Hinrich was selected by the Chicago Bulls in the 2003 NBA Draft with the seventh overall pick, resulting in mild surprise because he had been expected to be picked lower. Some doubted that his college game would translate successfully to the professional league, in part because he played shooting guard for his final two years in college, but is considered too small to play that position professionally. Hinrich's high selection in the draft is credited to a good workout in front of NBA team scouts. The Chicago Bulls also developed a sudden need for another point guard, as Jay Williams was severely injured in a motorcycle accident.
Hinrich met with misfortune when he suffered an acute viral infection shortly before the beginning of his first season, requiring months to fully recover. However, he played well after his recovery, showing a continued good grasp of fundamental skills, solid playmaking, leadership, and a surprising defensive intensity. He solidified his position as the Bulls' starting point guard and was named to the NBA's 2004 All-Rookie first team. He held the distinction for being the only rookie during that season to record a triple-double, with 11 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists versus the Golden State Warriors on February 28, 2004. During this same season, Hinrich's shot accuracy inside the three-point line (38.6 percent on field goals) was actually poorer than from behind it (39.0 percent on three-pointers). Hinrich was named to the NBA's "Got Milk? All-Rookie First Team" along with Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, and Chris Bosh. He was also awarded the Bulls' Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award or Player of the Year award (POY) for the 2003-04 season.
Hinrich is known for his intense on-court demeanor; he was involved in a minor scuffle between the Bulls and the Washington Wizards in the preseason of his second year in the league, for which he was fined $10,000. On a drive to the basket, then Wizards player Larry Hughes head butted Hinrich out of bounds, which prompted former team mates Antonio Davis and Eddy Curry to get into a small fight with Wizards center Brendan Haywood. Hughes, Haywood, Curry and Davis were all suspended at least one game by the NBA. The Bulls later met the Wizards in the first round of the playoffs and a rivalry was born.
In his second year, Hinrich's field goal percentage went up to .397, a marginal improvement. Though he started his second year as the team's starting point guard, he was moved to the shooting guard spot nine games into the season due to the team's 0-9 start. Ben Gordon was moved to the bench, as the Bulls' sixth man. The player who took over the starting point guard spot was rookie Chris Duhon. After this move was made, the Bulls started to gain team chemistry and the starting line up was geared more towards defense, with Gordon coming off the bench to spark the teams' scoring. The Bulls then made a run throughout the rest of the season to finish 47-35, becoming the first team ever to start off 0-9 and reach the playoffs, where they earned the 4th seed in the eastern conference. After winning the first two games of their series with the Washington Wizards, they lost the next four, including a last second loss at home in game 5, and were eliminated. During the off-season (the period of time between seasons) of Hinrich's second year the Bulls exercised the fourth-year option on his contract, meaning he is now signed through the 2006-07 NBA season.
In his third year in the NBA, Hinrich's field-goal percentage went up to 41%, although his three point shooting accuracy fell to to 35%. His career free throw shooting average is 80.5%, making him one of the better free throw shooters on the Bulls. The team traded away Antonio Davis and Eddy Curry in the off season and the team struggled until making a late season run to gain the seventh seed in the playoffs where they faced the eventual champs Miami Heat, in the first round. It was in the third game of the series that the Heat's James Posey shoulder tackled Hinrich, as he ran the fastbreak. 2 Hinrich ended the 05-06 season averaging a career high 15.9 ppg (points per game), a team-high 6.4 apg (assists per game), and 3.6 rpg (rebounds per game), while shooting a career high 41.8% from the field and a career high 81.5% from the free throw line. He was the only member of the Chicago Bulls to average more than one steal per game in the 2005-06 campaign.
Hinrich received a multi-year contract extension on October 31, 2006, which was the deadline for the deal (otherwise Hinrich would have become a restricted free agent). Bulls GM John Paxson was quoted as saying, "Kirk Hinrich is imperative to the foundation of our organization and we are extremely pleased to have him with us long term. We are attempting to build a team based on character and commitment and these are both traits that Kirk possesses at a very high level. This is a very good day for the Chicago Bulls organization."
Hinrich was named to the NBA's All Defensive second team in the 06-07 season. All Defensive teams all selected by the 30 head coaches in the NBA. First team votes are worth two points and second team votes are worth one point. Head coaches can not vote for players on their own team. Hinrich received 7 first team votes and 4 second team votes, for a total of 18 points. Hinrich joined teammate Ben Wallace on the 06-07 All defensive second team.
In July 2006, Hinrich was officially named to the United States national basketball team that hopes to compete in the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China. He was initially invited to participate in February 2006, but declined due to the pressure of making a decision in the midst of a competitive NBA season with the Chicago Bulls: "When I initially turned it down, I don't know if I really knew what I was doing," Hinrich said. "It was in the middle of a long season. I was focused on what we were doing. After the season was over, I was thinking that I someday might regret it. To get another chance to reconsider, I feel lucky." After his 2005-2006 NBA season ended, Hinrich changed his mind and accepted a spot on the team's roster.
The roster first fielded more than 20 players and was then cut down to 15 players, among which is Hinrich. The final roster will have 12 players. Hinrich was chosen as one of the 12 players that competed in the FIBA World Championship in Japan.
Hinrich learned of the death of his grandfather, and left the US training camp in Las Vegas early in the morning of July 25 to return to his hometown of Sioux City. Before leaving Hinrich met with the USA basketball media and commented on traveling overseas with the US national team. “I’m just really excited to have an opportunity to represent the country and go after a world championship,” he said. “That’s a big deal. I’m excited to be a part of it. It’s really a huge step in my career, and I’m excited to represent my country. It was great to get out here and compete with these guys [the US national team] and get to know them. Slowly we’re becoming a team, and it’s great to see and great to take part in it.”
Hinrich started the United States' exhibition game against Lithuania, in which he scored 10 points, had 2 steals, and shot 80% from the field in a US win. After the game Hinrich was asked about starting the game, "We're playing in groups right now. I know when I get my time, I just try to make the best of it, make sure our team is successful. It's one of those deals when you play in groups in spurts like that, it's a little bit tougher. But, you don't hold back and give it everything you got because you know you'll be rested a lot."
The US team played the Greece national team in the FIBA world Championship semi-final, which they lost 101-95. Hinrich connected on a three point shot with 2:41 to play in the game to bring the US within 5 points, but was then called for an unsportsmanlike foul on Greece center Sofoklis Schortsanitis. The US team then played against the Argentine team for the bronze medal in the FIBA World Championship. In this game Hinrich played against NBA team mate Andrés Nocioni. The US won the game 96-81, to take the bronze medal in the tournament.