3 Points: Assessing Butler's slow start
November, 13, 2013
Gary Dineen/NBAE/Getty ImagesJimmy Butler is averaging 10.5 points on 39.6 percent shooting through six games as the Bulls' starting shooting guard.Every week, ESPNChicago.com Bulls writer Nick Friedell is joined by ESPN.com's Scoop Jackson and ESPNChicago.com's Doug Padilla to weigh in on three questions that are on the minds of Bulls followers.
1. How would you assess Jimmy Butler's first six games as the starting shooting guard?
Friedell: Not great. Butler put in a lot of time in the offseason to improve his game, but that work hasn't appeared to pay off as of yet. He is struggling to find his place on the floor. Butler is getting open looks, but he just isn't knocking them down. He just needs to keep playing hard and hope his offensive game comes around.
Jackson: He's not living up to his "Buckets" nickname yet. But singling out Jimmy when everyone else besides Carlos Boozer is playing bad isn't fair. Butler is playing solid D and leading the team in steals. I'd like to see him simply be more aggressive and assertive offensively. Stop overthinking and just ball. Be more selfish. Act like he has a green light to do his thing. Trust his jump shot. Grade? C+. But it's not all Jimmy's fault, and there's a lot of time left for him to find his groove.
Padilla: To put it into one word: passive. When the Bulls were riddled with injuries last season, Butler was asked to step up. He not only showed that he was up for the task, he offered visions of a bright future when his game fully developed. Now, though, the Bulls have more offensive options, namely Derrick Rose running the show from the point guard spot, and Butler has sort of receded into the shadows. It's time to lean on Butler a little harder now, not only to get his own game on track, but to pick up for Luol Deng's shooting struggles and to help take some of the burden from Rose, who has been trying to do too much too soon.
2. Do the Bulls need another shooter? And if so, how do they do it?
Friedell: Yeah, they do need another shooter. A team can never have enough shooting. The problem for them is that at this point in the year there aren't a lot of other options on the market. Tom Thibodeau had better hope Mike Dunleavy, Jr. starts knocking down more shots.
Mike DiNovo/USA TODAY SportsLuol Deng has connected on just 1 of 18 three-pointers this season.
Jackson: A: They need another "volume" scorer, not necessarily a shooter. They need someone who can come off of the bench and give them 10-15 points in a short amount of time. Especially when Rose is not in the game. Every time I look at Aaron Brooks on the Houston Rockets, I just shake my head and say, "Damn." That's exactly the type of cat the Bulls need. How do they get him or someone like him? Who cares, because they won't.
Padilla: Let's not go all panic button and start breaking up the roster already. The Bulls have a fine complement of shooters, but it's a trio of issues that are causing the problem in the early going. Deng is clearly not as bad as his 1-of-18 shooting from 3-point range would suggest. He is a career 33 percent shooter from deep, not 6 percent. Butler has also not given what the Bulls expected. The final issue is getting their inside-out game in sync. First Rose was struggling, and now he is ailing with a hamstring issue, so that part of the team's game will take some time.
3. John Paxson says there are no restrictions on Rose, but should the Bulls find some games to rest him throughout the season?
Friedell: Why not? Is it really going to kill the Bulls to sit Rose out of the fourth game in five nights on their upcoming West Coast swing? Even if Rose is feeling OK, why not give him an extra day to rest his body here and there? Paxson's heart is in the right place regarding Rose's status -- they want him to play if he's ready and able -- but they should try to get him some rest when they can. They have to plan the season with a bigger picture in mind.
Jackson: Nope. Rest is not the answer. Rose needs reps. The more he plays, the better he'll be in feeling comfortable in what he does and what he can do. What the Bulls need to do is find a way to not be so dependent on Derrick offensively. He's still the straw that stirs the drink, as well as the cup and the liquid inside. And it's not like they have a Josh McCown as backup if Rose goes down.
Padilla: Absolutely Rose should be targeted for rest at specific points of the schedule, primarily on the second night of back-to-back games. He doesn't have to rest in all of the back-to-backs, but one a month shouldn't be too much to ask. Older players such as Dwyane Wade have already done it this season and the schedule is barely two weeks old. Rose isn't an older player, but surely guys on their way back from knee surgery should be given the same consideration. Rose continues to show the tendency of having his mind ask his body to do more than it can handle. He's not going to change, but a little rest might help in that department.