Last night, the Chicago Bulls forced Jimmy Butler into a spot start due to current starter, Marco Belinelli, sitting out last minute with a minor injury. To say the least, he exceeded expectations.
Butler was given 44 minutes of playing time by head coach Tom Thibodeau because of the team’s banged up roster at the moment. He was nothing short of incredible in every aspect of the game.
Filling up the stat sheet, Butler tied a career-high with 20 points and added nine rebounds, three steals, two assists, and a block while managing to stay out of the turnover category altogether. He knocked down both of his three point attempts and sunk eight of nine free throws.
Butler was unsurprisingly active on both ends of the court. On offense, he was constantly moving trying to get open and also cutting to the hoop for either a pass or to position himself for an offensive board. On defense, he played well in the help defense side of things, while also being in the right place to yank down a few rebounds from the opposition’s grasp.
When getting the chance to play extended minutes this season, Butler has shown the ability to be a multidimensional player and a threat on both ends of the court. Playing behind Luol Deng for the first two years of his career has done wonders for his work ethic and in shaping the type of player he is becoming. Mixed with Thibodeau’s gritty coaching style, Butler is transforming his game into something special.
Butler has worked hard on his offensive game, and it has shown great improvement over the limited basis we witnessed last season. Confidence has not lacked in his play, as he will line up against anybody when asked to do so. Attacking the hoop on offense and finding open looks for himself have been key to his success scoring the ball.
What would be ideal for Chicago is if they can let go of Rip Hamilton in the off season and allow Butler to start in his place. Bringing back Belinelli to come off the bench wouldn’t be a bad idea either. Between the two of them, Butler and Belinelli have completely contrasting styles that are valuable to Thibodeau in a variety of situations.
Come playoff time, it will be a relief to the Bulls knowing they have a guy who can come off the bench and provide such a spark like Butler can. Who knows, he may find himself starting eventually, if not playing more minutes than the other options Thibodeau has at shooting guard. Either way, having Butler on the court is going to be a positive situation for the Bulls in the postseason.