Coming off his first full season as a starter, Jimmy Butler is now headed into his fourth NBA season with the Chicago Bulls. Although Butler has proven to be a lockdown wing defender and an extremely valuable piece to the Bulls, he must improve his jump shot this season.
Last season, Butler averaged 13.1 points, 4.9 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.9 steals per game (all career highs) while shooting 40 percent from the field and 28 percent from three. However, those numbers are slightly deceiving as Butler’s minutes increased from 26.0 to 38.7 (tied for first in NBA) from his second year to his third.
One part of Butler’s game that suffered mightily was his three-point shot. Butler shot the majority of his three’s from the top of the key and the wing, when in the past he had success shooting the three-ball from the corner. Butler shot 43 percent (31-for-72) from the corner three while only shooting 23 percent (37-for-164) from longer range threes.
Butler thrives off put-backs, alley-oops and getting to the basket where he draws fouls gets to the free throw line. When Butler got around the basket (eight-feet and in) he shot 57 percent (131-for-230) but didn’t have the opportunity to do it quite as often as in the past. Butler had 29 dunks as opposed to 45 the season before. His offensive rebound percentage also decreased.
Butler was hampered by a turf toe injury and it certainly had an effect on his game. Also contributing to a decreased offensive production was Butler’s focus on the defensive end of the floor where he really shined–Butler defended the number one wing player on a nightly basis. His defensive rating increased form 104 to 100 and was also fourth in defensive win shares with 4.6 and in steals per game (1.9).
Butler will bring his defensive prowess in 2014-2015, but now that he is healthy, look for Butler to return with an improved jumper and to continue to hit the boards, get easy put-backs and get to the free throw line. Also, Derrick Rose makes the game easier for everyone and it will certainly help Butler on the offensive end. Look for Butler to hit the three at a more efficient rate as he did in his sophomore season. With more depth on the roster, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Butler’s minutes slightly decrease with Tony Snell and Kirk Hinrich seeing minutes at the two-guard.