Butler is Serving Up a Career Year
Coming into this season it was very clear that the Chicago Bulls’ players and staff all agreed that Jimmy Butler was now the leader of their team. How realistic this would be had yet to be determined. With the addition of two championship winning guards to the roster, at least one of which is a sure-fire Hall of Famer, it wasn’t clear who would truly be the leader on and off the court. But from the gate Jimmy has certainly shouldered the role of a leader for the Bulls, starting the season by putting up career numbers. Butler is averaging career highs in points, rebounds, field goal percentage, free throws attempted, and free throw percentage, while also averaging his lowest minutes per game since he became a starter in Chicago.
Now these numbers aren’t surprising so much as they are expected. First, you have a player who has consistently improved his game every season, even winning the NBA’s Most Improved award in 2015. It was unclear if his numbers would drop after the signing of Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo, who are both ball dominant guards. It seems this has helped Butler though, allowing him to work off the ball more often while remaining the primary scoring threat. Rondo and Wade have taken some of burden of taking the ball up in transition, thus allowing Butler to pick his spots a little better and become a more efficient scorer. Butler might not always have the ball in his hand, but the guy that does is often looking for Jimmy to get open and feed him the ball.
This has translated into successes for the team, who currently sits in the sixth spot in the east. It’s still early in the season, but this slightly exceeds the expectations that many had for the Bulls. If they can stay healthy and the coaching staff can remain wise with the minute distribution, I think the veterans on the team can lead Chicago down the stretch and make a run of sorts in the playoffs.
At this pace, Butler is certainly eyeing his third straight All-Star appearance. The guy is always a threat for an All-Defensive nod, as well. Jimmy is certainly on the path to a career year, but with the recent performances of guys like Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, and James Harden (I still dream about them being on the Thunder together) an MVP contention might be out of reach. I don’t think; however, anyone will question who’s team this is moving forward.