Bulls player review: Jimmy Butler

May, 20, 2013
5/20/13
3:20
PM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
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Nick Friedell looks at each player on the Chicago Bulls roster and how they fit in for the future.

Jimmy ButlerDennis Wierzbicki/USA TODAY SportsJimmy Butler played 221 out of a possible 240 minutes in the Heat series.

Jimmy Butler


2012-13 salary: $1,066,920 | Age: 23 | Season stats: 8.6 ppg, 4.0 rpg

Season recap: After struggling to find a consistent place in Tom Thibodeau's rotation for the first couple months of his second season, Butler flourished toward the middle of January when Luol Deng went down with a hamstring injury. By the end of the season, Butler was being counted on to play 48 minutes a night and be a defensive presence for a Bulls team that advanced to the second round of the playoffs. In a short span, Butler has become revered in Chicago for his work ethic and has quickly become an integral part of the organization's future. He has worked hard on his jump shot over the past year and has become much more consistent from beyond the arc. He is also one of the most solid defenders on the team and is routinely counted on to slow down the other team's best player, especially when Deng is on the mend.

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Season highlight: Butler had 21 points and 14 rebounds and played solid defense on LeBron James for 48 minutes in a surprising Game 1 win over the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Butler played 221 out of a possible 240 minutes in the Heat series.

Season lowlight: Butler scored just four points and missed two crucial free throws in the waning seconds in a loss to the Dallas Mavericks on March 31. He was just 1-for-8 from the field in 44 minutes.

Final grades: Regular Season: B Postseason: B+

Notes: The Bulls don't want to move Butler, especially given that he has a couple more years on his rookie deal before an extension is likely hammered out, but he has become one of the team's most valuable assets. The Bulls don't want to move him but they would if it was part of a package that brought another star to Chicago.

Quotes: "It brings a smile to my face, obviously," Butler said in April of being a possible two-guard of the future. "But I try not to get too caught up in the future because it's not promised. You never know what could happen. Right now I live for the moment and I praise every moment that I'm given because it's a blessing. But knowing that they want me to be here alongside Derrick (Rose), (Deng) and all these other guys, that makes me smile."

What's next?: Butler has to continue to work on his jump shot and become more consistent from the outside. His teammates and coaches love him because of his work ethic. If he wants to improve his game he'll have to live in the gym again this summer and try to make the next step in his progression.

Nick Friedell | email

Chicago Bulls beat reporter
Nick Friedell is the Chicago Bulls beat reporter for ESPN Chicago. Friedell is a graduate of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University and joined ESPNChicago.com for its launch in April 2009.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Derrick Rose
PTS AST STL MIN
15.9 4.3 0.5 31.1
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Noah 11.3
AssistsJ. Noah 5.4
StealsJ. Butler 1.9
BlocksJ. Noah 1.5