Butler's debut has Bulls buzzing

December, 16, 2011
12/16/11
10:29
PM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
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INDIANAPOLIS -- Bulls rookie Jimmy Butler admitted that he was nervous before the start of Friday's game.

Why wouldn't he be? He was playing in his first NBA game. After he banked in his first shot, though, everything changed.

[+] EnlargeJimmy Butler
AP Photo/Michael ConroyJimmy Butler could be a solid addition to the Bulls' bench mob.

"Those guys told me to calm down and do what I've been doing for however many years now and that's play basketball," he said after Friday night's win over the Pacers. "They wanted me to be successful and I felt like I did all right."

Butler certainly did, scoring eight points, going 3-for-3 from the field and showing the type of intensity that the Bulls love to see.

"I told you he's great, man," Bulls point guard Derrick Rose said. "He's a great addition to our team. With him being so young and understanding the game. And he has a lot of confidence, quiet confidence. Where when he's out there, he's always doing something good. He can defend. Plays smart, man, especially being a rookie. He's one of the pieces I think Coach is going to use a lot."

That's fine by Butler, although he admitted he was still trying to get used to the fast-paced action in the game.

"Everything about the game surprised me, man," he said. "You can get away with stuff in college by being more athletic, or your length. At this level, everybody can do everything. It was definitely a learning experience for me out there."

Now that he's learned a little more, Butler feels like he's part of the club, like he belongs in the league.

"I definitely think so," he said. "That first jumper, off the glass, I didn't call it, so I don't know. After that, I think my nerves started to calm. After my first defensive trip, I was like, "All right, maybe I do belong here."

Brewer will play any role: If Ronnie Brewer is frustrated with the addition of Rip Hamilton, he isn't showing it publicly. The veteran guard said all the right things on Friday morning when it came to adding a new teammate who will probably take up some of his minutes this year.

"I think it's great for this team," Brewer said of the Hamilton acquisition. "It adds another weapon. It does a lot for this offense. [He] moves well without the basketball. [Has a] great mid-range game. Great leadership, and he's won championships. That's something that guys on this team are chasing to get. [With] the addition of him., he knows what it takes to get there. [Brian Scalabrine], Coach Thibs, those are the only guys who have experienced winning a championship. That's what we're trying to do. He practiced [Thursday]. We've been pushing each other hard in practice and working together to try and get better, so I like it."

So has Thibodeau talked to Brewer about continuing to start, like he did Friday night, and have Hamilton come off the bench?

"Honestly, I haven't really talked to him about it," Brewer said. "My whole viewpoint of the whole thing is wherever they have me coming in -- I worked hard in the summer to improve and get better, so if I'm starting [or] coming off the bench. I want to be better than I was last year. And that's my main focus, to help the team out. At the end of the day, we're all in it to win, win games. If it means him starting is going to give us a better chance to win the championship, I'm all about it. If it means for me to start and set the tempo and have Rip and Kyle come off the bench, I'm fine with that too. Whatever my roll is on this team, I'm willing to take it in stride."

The last word: "Turnovers," he said. "We can deal with missed shots. That's going to happen in a game, but turnovers, that's something that we've definitely got to change and it starts with me. A perfect game with me is no turnovers. I don't care about any other stat other than turnovers." - Rose, on what he feels like his team must clean up in the next week.

Part II: "It seems like we've played them 20 times," he said. "Doesn't it seem like we've played them a lot over the last 12-16 months or something?" - Carlos Boozer on playing Indiana again.

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
Jimmy Butler
PTS AST STL MIN
20.1 3.3 1.8 39.5
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsP. Gasol 11.9
AssistsD. Rose 4.9
StealsJ. Butler 1.8
BlocksP. Gasol 2.2