Last season for the Chicago Bulls, there were many guys that had to step up in absence of their fearless leader, Derrick Rose. Nobody really gave Chicago a shot to make the playoffs – or advance past the first round – without the former NBA MVP. But, that’s exactly what they did.
One of the biggest surprises was that of the emergence of swingman Jimmy Butler. Coming into last season, he hadn’t played a whole lot due to him being a rookie in 2011 and the Bulls having a much deeper bench than they did in 2012. However, the second year pro showed up in a big way especially down the stretch.
Butler stepped in towards the end of the season and started at the shooting guard position instead of Richard Hamilton, who had found himself in head coach Tom Thibodeau’s dog house due to inconsistent play and constant nagging injuries.
All he did was take leaps and bounds on both ends of the court, helping his Bulls to not only make the playoffs but upset the Brooklyn Nets in the first round. His progress, offensively especially, was astounding. Confidence grew, shots began to fall more frequently and he attacked the basket aggressively.
Butler talked Wednesday on ESPN 1000′s “Waddle and Silvy” show about his success and gave much of the credit to the injured superstar, Rose:
“He was a big part of the success I had later in the year because he was constantly telling me I’ve seen you do this, I’ve seen you make those shots, you take those shots. Every shot you take, think it’s going in, think you’re going to make it. When you have somebody like that on your side who is constantly building you up it makes it easier to go out and perform and do well.”
If anything, it speaks volumes regarding Rose’s influence on the team even though he did not appear in a game in 2012. Rose is still using his talents to teach and encourage his teammates. At a young age, that is a very good sign.
Butler’s ceiling remains incredibly high heading into 2013 and beyond. The athletic and tenacious shooting guard expects to start next season and continue to see success:
“I do. I see myself as a part of this team,” Butler said. “If that’s the two, if that’s the three, if that’s defense, whatever my teams needs me to do that’s what I’m going to be. It’s not really putting numbers on it, just do what I can for this team.”