Jimmy Butler is a player that has had a lot of weight put on his shoulders with regards to not only the season outlook for the Chicago Bulls, but also the long-term success of the franchise.
As a team that has struggled to find a consistent offensive option at the shooting guard position since the loss of Ben Gordon to the Detroit Pistons a few seasons ago, it was evident that an upgrade was going to be necessary for the Bulls to reach new heights in their pursuit of basketball immortality.
Whether it was the tired old legs of Richard Hamilton that just couldn’t fit the mold or players such as Kyle Korver who were lost because of a bigger paycheck, the team simply wasn’t able to consistently give Derrick Rose the companion he so desperately needed for the Bulls to have any hope of winning a championship.
Although last season proved to be one that was riddled with false hopes of title pursuits, it seemed that one question had finally been answered. With the emergence of Butler as a legitimate two-way talent for the Bulls, the team finally seemed to have found the missing piece to the puzzle.
In Butler, they finally had not only the defensive tenacity that is a job necessity for any player hoping to play under Tom Thibodeau, but also a player that score in a multitude of ways, rebound the basketball and spread the floor on a consistent basis. In a league that is dominated from the perimeter, they found a player who could consistently put up a roadblock against LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and the elite perimeter talents of the NBA.
In the former Marquette Golden Hawks star, they believed they found a future star. A player that, along with Joakim Noah and Rose, would be a cornerstone for the franchise as they built a consistent contender for the next decade.
Thus far, with the highly-anticipated breakout of Butler falling well short of expectations and the highly publicized struggles of the Bulls, the such hopes have been put at a standstill.
Entering tonight’s highly-anticipated matchup against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Butler has been a virtual non-factor for the Bulls this season on the offensive end of the floor. Through the first five games of the season, he has put up 10.4 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.2 steals per game, pretty good numbers for a supporting talent.
That said, his shooting at 42.5 percent from the field and 25 percent from long range will have to improve, or an added element of aggressiveness on the offensive end of the floor will not be enough to aid the team in its offensive struggles.
For the Bulls to have any hope of competing for an NBA championship this season, the rekindling of the star that once seemed destined to shine among the other young talents destined for greatness in the league must undergo a rebirth, or risk being just another piece in the collective disappointment that will be the Bulls if another season of shortcomings befall them.
With the offensive struggles plaguing everyone on the roster outside of Carlos Boozer early on, it is not too late for Butler to carve out a bigger role in this offense. It will take aggressiveness and a sense of urgency from Butler on the floor to establish just such a role within the Bulls’ offense, something that I’m confident the team would welcome.
For a chance to see Butler lead the Bulls on an offensive turnaround this season, get your Bulls tickets here.