It’s impossible to deny that last weekend’s NBA Draft was a weak one. That’s the truth. There was no consensus no. 1 overall pick and there were no “can’t miss” prospects in the lottery.
But it seems that contenders were able to add some pretty nice pieces in the draft. No one has any of them destined for stardom, yet, but the teams at the end of the first round look like they’ve added solid bench guys and role players. The Bulls are no exception to this trend.
They did add a nice looking European prospect in Nikola Mirotic, but since we won’t seen him again for a few years, the Bulls draft will, for now, be judged by the success of Jimmy Butler in an NBA uniform.
By now, we all know the story of Jimmy Butler, and what an incredible one it is. Kicked out by his mother than homeless at 13, Butler landed on the streets for four years before spending his senior year with a friend’s family that took him in. It was that family, the Lamberts, that convinced him to go to Marquette.
Butler spent his first year of school at a junior college, having not been heavily recruited out of high school. He was convinced to go to Marquette, not only because of the strong basketball tradition that the Golden Eagles carry, but the academics of the school as well.
It’s that type of fact and what his family has said about Butler and his character that have many already rooting for this guy as a fan favorite in Chicago, before he even steps foot on the United Center floor.
Beyond his character, Butler’s stats improved every year at Marquette. After playing his first year with the Golden Eagles as a sophomore, Butler’s minutes doubled, and his points per game nearly tripled. In his senior year, Butler averaged almost 16 points per game, which went along with his six rebounds.
The scouting reports on Butler all read pretty similar heading into last Thursday night’s draft. Overall, he’s a solid player, but where he really excels is on the defensive end. With a combination of his defensive skill and the effort he gives, Butler was a gem for a defensive team in this draft.
You could just read that paragraph and know that Butler is a perfect fit for the Bulls. With the defense-first philosophy that Tom Thibodeau brought to the table last year, you knew the Bulls wouldn’t look at a guy who was all offense, such as New Jersey Nets first round pick Marshon Brooks.
Butler is an outstanding perimeter defender, something that will go quite perfectly as the Bulls try and guard the Miami Heat’s combination of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, among the other top dogs of the NBA. Similar to other guys on the team, like Joakim Noah, Butler is lauded for the effort he puts in on the court, which appears to be endless to this point.
He’s also a kid of outstanding character, as we have already read and seen in his interviews since being drafted by the Bulls. He’s already won over the Bulls fans with his desire to stop Wade and James, and has already won over his point guard, Derrick Rose, as the two already met and got familiar with each other this week.
Butler should prove to be a key guy for the Bulls, whether the season starts in the fall of 2011 or beyond. He likely won’t start, but he shouldn’t have a problem finding his way into the rotation at some point. He could end up supplanting Ronnie Brewer at the two-guard when he does play, but he will also be able to spell Luol Deng, which was a rarity this season.
Overall, it will take a bit of time for Butler to adjust to the NBA game from college, but once he does that, Butler should prove to be a fantastic asset on defense for Tom Thibodeau and the Bulls this season.