Jimmy Butler is For Real

Jimmy Butler throws down a dunk against the Bucks during the 2014-2015 season

 

It was only a preseason game, but it was hard to not get excited. Jimmy Butler had just put the Bulls on his back scoring 29 points for the game with 20 of those points coming in his six minutes of playing time in the fourth quarter.  We all laughed it off and condemned Stacey King for proclaiming he was “Jimmy Jordan because he was playing like Michael.”  We made excuses like, “It’s just preseason” or “it was against Atlanta’s sixteenth string!”  Bulls Nation was hesitant to get excited.  Could Jimmy Butler truly turn the corner and be a dominant two-way player in this league?

It’s early, but the answer seems to be a resounding “yes.”

He ranks 14th in the entire league in points per game with 21.3. He’s shooting 50.8% from the field and 37% from three. He’s getting to the line eight times a game, up three attempts from last season.  With D-Rose in and out of the lineup, we’ve seen Butler control the ball and make shots at pivotal times in the fourth quarter repeatedly this season.  He’s developed a nice post game in which he bullies smaller guards and plays to his strengths.  This is a completely different Jimmy Butler than we saw last year.  Last year, I wrote an article called “How Jimmy Gets Buckets” for The Bulls Charge and discussed how Jimmy was becoming more efficient as the season went along.  As the season progressed, he went away from the three-point shot and was taking jumpers a couple of feet inside the arc.  Guess what?  He was starting to make them.  He has continued that trend this season.  Below is a comparison of his shooting percentages by area per NBA.com/stats:

butler 2014-2015He’s shooting better at the rim, better from mid-range, and has been selective with his three-point shot.  This isn’t just a random thing he’s trying out.  It’s a shift in his style and it’s great news for the Bulls.  Many people assumed the Bulls didn’t address their need for a shot creator when they missed out on Carmelo Anthony and failed to land Kevin Love.  Here’s a comparison of Jimmy Butler to two other players using a stat called “Percentage of Field Goals Unassisted” which insinuates the player has some ability to “create a shot” for himself and giving their overall stats:

Butler this season: 21.3 points per game, 6.2 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 1.4 steals, 50.8% FG, 37% from three, 32.3% FGM %UAST

Player A: 20.2 points per game, 6.5 rebounds, 5.7 assists, 1.9 steals, 47.4% FG, 36.8% from three, 38% FGM %UAST

Player B: 12.8 points per game, 6.2 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.7 steals, 52.2% FG, 37.9% from three, 40.7% FGM %UAST

These numbers aren’t all that different are they? Did you take Jimmy Butler over either of those guys?  Maybe you did over Player B.  Is Jimmy a similar shot creator than Player A? Let’s reveal those players:

Butler this season: 21.3 points per game, 6.2 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 1.4 steals, 50.8% FG, 37% from three, 32.3% FGM %UAST

Scottie Pippen in 1996-1997: 20.2 points per game, 6.5 rebounds, 5.7 assists, 1.9 steals, 47.4% FG, 36.8% from three, 38% FGM %UAST

Kawhi Leonard last season: 12.8 points per game, 6.2 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.7 steals, 52.2% FG, 37.9% from three, 40.7% FGM %UAST

That’s some pretty good company isn’t it? Kawhi was fantastic last year and Scottie Pippen is a hall of famer.  In the modern NBA and especially among See Red Nation, whom seem to regurgitate whatever ESPN tells them to, the term “shot creator” has become a hot topic in the NBA.  Pippen in his prime was little better than Butler at making shots if they weren’t assisted.  Basketball is a team game and successful teams have something in common: They move the ball quickly and make shots.  That’s a simplistic look at successful offenses.  So far, the Bulls are doing just that and Jimmy Butler just happens to be the most consistent guy on offense thus far.

I’m not trying to elevate Jimmy Butler to Scottie Pippen’s level or even Kawhi Leonard’s level.  It’s nine games.  But what I’m seeing from him this season is remarkable and it’s what he started last season which leads me to believe it’s not a simple contract year performance. Jimmy Butler is for real and it’s time for Bulls Nation to embrace #BUTLERMANIA.

Brandon Pence is the author and creator of “The Bulls Charge” and contributor to ChiBullsZone.com.  You can read more from him by clicking here and also follow him on Twitter @thebullscharge.    

 

 

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Posted on November 19, 2014, in Articles, NBA Basketball and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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