In what was largely considered as a “bridge season” for the Chicago Bulls, the emergence of Forward/Guard Jimmy Butler was arguably the best aspect for the Bulls in the 2012-2013 campaign.
Butler didn’t come into the NBA with a ton of hype out of Marquette University in the 2011 NBA Draft. He was the last player taken in the first round by the Bulls at 30th overall. Despite a rookie season where Butler played 8.6 minutes a game in 42 contests, It’s safe to say a lot of NBA general managers are kicking themselves in the rear after Butler’s 2013 season. Once again the overall regular season numbers of Butler don’t jump off the stat sheet. In 2013 Butler averaged 8.6ppg and 4rpg while connecting on 46.7% of his field goals, 38.1% from 3pt land, and 80.3% from the charity stripe.
However, in a season that saw a lot of player games missed for the Chicago Bulls at the shooting guard and small forward positions, Butler showed himself he’s going to be an excellent two way players for years to come. In 20 starts in the 2013 season, Butler was took full advantage of his playing time. Averaging 14.5ppg, 7.1rpg, 2.7apg, 1.8spg, shooting a blistering 45.8% from 3pt range while playing 43.3mpg. Butler also did this while often drawing the assignment of the best perimeter scorer of the opposition. Some may consider this too small a sample size to get excited about, but the Butler did it again in the post season. In 12 post season contest Butler posted 13.3ppg, 5.2rpg, 2.7agp while connecting on 40.8% from 3pt land. Butler only seems to come out if he gets in foul trouble as he played 40+ minutes in seven of the 12 playoff games, including playing all 48 minutes in three consecutive contests. All this was done while effectively defending multiple players such as Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Dwayne Wade to LeBron James. This kind of two way ability is what general managers dream of finding. As a defender Butler is NBA All Defense caliber and on offense he doesn’t demand the ball to be effective. In fact teammate Richard Hamilton often would go to Butler urging him to be more aggressive offensively.
Going foward the Chicago Bulls seem pleased with the progression of Jimmy Butler. With inserting a healthy Derrick Rose back into the line up for the upcoming 2013-2014 campaign, the Bulls seem likely to return as legit contenders for the NBA Title. A backcourt of Rose and Butler could easily be the best standing tandem should Butler continue to expand his game and stays at the shooting guard position.
Overall Grade: A-