The over-arching narrative of the 2012-2013 NBA season for the Chicago Bulls has been the saga surrounding the impending return of their superstar point guard, Derrick Rose. However, that hasn’t been the only thing going on in Chicago. One of the storylines that has been widely overlooked has been the emergence of second-year forward Jimmy Butler.
As a rookie last year, Butler played in just 42 games and averaged only 8.5 minutes per game. In those extremely limited minutes, Butler averaged just 2.6 points, 1.3 rebounds and 0.3 assists per game. He also didn’t show many signs of promise with efficient shooting, putting up a success-rate of just 40.5 percent. It seems, though, like all Butler needed was an opportunity.
Butler has gotten to play in all 65 of the Bulls’ games this season and his workload has increased to 22.5 minutes per game. That is still a limited share of minutes, but an obvious improvement on last season. He’s also delivered on his increased playing time, averaging 7.3 points, 3.4 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 0.8 steals per game. Butler’s biggest improvement has come with his efficiency, posting a field goal percentage of 46.3 this season.
Chicago has watched Butler show that he has enormous potential this season. However, many have been calling for Butler to play more minutes so that he can continue to gain experience and grow as a player. Though that would be ideal because he does look so promising, Butler, for the most part, plays behind Luol Deng. It’s hard to justify playing Butler over a highly paid and proven player like Deng, even if Butler does have tons of promise.
Butler’s role probably won’t be changing, even though many people would like to see it grow. However, it feels safe to say that he is establishing himself in the NBA and has a bright future in professional basketball. He won’t be playing behind Deng forever.