What Jimmy Butler Has Meant for the Miami Heat
The Miami Heat made an unexpected splash last summer when they acquired Jimmy Butler in a sign-and-trade with the Philadelphia 76ers. For the Heat, they finally had a proven superstar in their prime on the roster. For Butler, this was his chance to be the undisputed alpha on a team and organization that fits his no nonsense personality. Now almost a month into the season, let’s look at what Butler has been doing as the lead man in Miami.
Though he missed the first three games of the season for the birth of his daughter, Butler returned to the court and has been dominant on both ends ever since. Offensive (OPBM), defensive (DPBM), and total box plus/minus (BPM) are good ways to generally measure the impact a player is having on one end of the floor or both.
Using a minimum of 100 minutes as a cutoff, Butler has an OBPM of 3.8, 1st on the Heat and 25th in the league. On the defensive end, Butler’s DPBM is 3.1, 2nd on the Heat behind only Bam Adebayo and 20th in the league. His total BPM is a staggering 6.9, leading the Heat in BPM and ranking 9th in the league. Simply put, Butler makes the Heat better on both ends.
As for why, a peek into the counting stats shows some of where that’s coming from. On a per game basis, Butler leads the Heat in points (18.8), assists (6.5), and steals (2.8). He’s third on the team in blocks (0.8) and rebounds (5.5) per game as well. The assists and steals are of special note, as he’s 19th in the league and leading the league in those stats, respectively. He’s getting to the free throw line at an elite level, leading the Heat in free throw attempts per game (7.6) and knocking them down at a solid 80.3%. His free throw attempts ranks ninth in the league.
Butler’s playmaking has been perhaps the most surprising aspect of his game with the Heat; he’s always looking to set up his teammates and leads the Heat in assist percentage a 29.7% because of it. Though not a transcendent scorer, Butler can still pick his spots to score or drive into the lane to get easy free throws. In the first half against the Phoenix Suns, Butler exploded for 30 points and kept the Heat afloat until others stepped up in the second half.
That said, he’s still not averaging 20 ppg, in large part due to terrible 3-point shooting (21.7%). Once his three-point shot starts falling, Butler should have no problems clearing 20 ppg.
Jimmy Butler first made his name in the league playing hard-nosed defense, and that’s persisted even now that he’s playing in Miami. With good timing and a knack for back-taps, Butler has been making plays stealing the ball then getting out in transition for easy buckets. That same timing and rugged defense has him averaging close to a block a game as well. As usual, he’s still at his best defending out on the perimeter, making life terrible for whomever he’s guarding. With Butler on the floor, the Heat’s 3rd ranked 101.1 defense rating improves to a lockdown 98.
So far, Butler has shown to be the two-way superstar Miami was hoping for when they signed him. Acting as the primary playmaker and when needed, go-to scorer, Butler has become the center of the offense. Defending the opponent’s best players while racking up steals and making plays at the rim, Butler has also been leading on the defensive end. At 8-3, Miami is looking in great shape to start the season and owes it to its undisputed alpha, Jimmy Butler.