This season Jimmy Butler bet on himself, and it paid off in the end. The fourth year wing out of Marquette made a tremendous leap in productivity and efficiency this season, which resulted in Butler garnering numerous awards. Butler was named to his first All Star game, as well as being named to the 2nd Team All-Defensive squad in addition to being proclaimed this season’s Most Improved Player.
It was apparent from the preseason and on into the early going of the regular season that Butler had vastly improved, and expanded his arsenal. One of the big aspects of his game that was noticeable, was his much improved footwork. Because of so, Butler’s jumper was far more consistent, he had become more assertive, efficient off the bounce, and had effectively implemented a post game.
Butler’s integration of scoring out of the post was something we had yet to see from him in his first three years in the league. Before, you could see the potential of Butler’s shooting and creativity off the bounce, but post moves? No, this was something entirely new to observe. Butler has added a vast array of moves out of the post; turnaround jumpers, face-up jumpers, step-back jumpers, drop-steps, and counters off the original drop-step.
Butler went to the post more so during the early beginnings of the regular season, however as it progressed we saw Butler move away from that part of his game, for whatever reason. For the season, Butler saw 92 possessions in the post, 67 of those possessions resulting in field goal attempts, which accounted for 7.6% of his overall attempts. Furthermore, Butler shot 47.8% out of the post this season, scoring 52.2% of the time with an impressive 1.02 points per possession.
That being said, there are two numbers to focus on from those last few stats, 92 and 7.6%. As Butler moves forward into next season and beyond, his post game should become a more consistent fixture as he was rather efficient out of that area this season. Ideally, we should see Butler’s post possessions easily eclipse the the triple digits in the future, and become a larger percentage (10-15% if not more) of his overall attempts. For as good as he was when he had the ball in the post, the Bulls should look to capitalize on it as much as possible. In addition, at 6’7, 220 pounds, and being as strong as he is, there aren’t many two-guards in the league that can withstand Butler in the post, and thus he and the Bulls should take advantage of that every chance he gets.
This isn’t necessarily to say that it should become the main attraction of his arsenal. Butler has improved into a league-average three-point shooter, more than viable creator off the dribble and can get to the free throw line at an elite rate. But for him to continue to evolve as a player, and become an even more effective offensive force for the Bulls (should he re-sign this summer), increasing his post touches and attempts is essential.
All stats via NBA.com/Stats
Twitter – @Tyler_Pleiss