It has been a long first half of the 2013-14 NBA season for Chicago Bulls swingman Jimmy Butler. He started the year out with a nagging toe injury, and since returning Dec. 13 against the Milwaukee Bucks, he’s only had a handful of efficient games from the floor. And honestly, he’s struggled in more areas of his game than just his scoring.
The former Marquette Golden Eagle was supposed to take a huge step in his second year as a starter, and was even one of the most talked about players as a contender for the Most Improved Player award. That hasn’t been the case, though, shooting above 42 percent from the floor only three times in his last 22 games. His PER (player efficiency rating) has also dropped from 15.2 last year, which is a very respectable number, to only 12.8 this year, which is rather mediocre.
However, tonight against the San Antonio Spurs on the road, Butler earned back his Jimmy Buckets moniker playing probably his best game of the year.
On the evening, Butler put up a team-high 19 points on 7-of-11 shooting from the field. He went 1-for-2 from deep and 4-of-5 from the free-throw line, while adding four boards, three steals, two blocks and one assist in nearly 42 minutes.
It was great to see Butler come out of his seemingly season-long slump, especially against such a well respected team like the Spurs — despite the Bulls handling them surprisingly easily, 96-86. The hope here is that he can start to string together games at a time and build his confidence back up to where it was near the end of last season and in the playoffs.
If he does, that’ll just be one more improved piece for the Bulls to utilize fully to complete this turnaround they’ve made in the past month or so. He has the potential to be possibly the best all-around player on the active roster right now, he just needs to build that confidence back up and keep gaining experience.