Bulls player recap: Jimmy Butler

May, 25, 2012
5/25/12
8:32
PM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
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Over the next few weeks, we'll take a closer look at each player on the Bulls roster and see where they fit in for the future.

Jimmy Butler


Position: SF | Age: 22 | 2011-12 salary: $1,020,000

Season recap: Butler spent most of the year trying to learn Tom Thibodeau's system. Thibodeau and the coaching staff continually praised the rookie's work ethic and the way he played in practice but Butler did not get much of a chance to play meaningful minutes throughout the year. He saw action in just 42 games. Butler always played hard in limited minutes but he struggled at times adjusting to the speed of the NBA game.

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Season highlight: Butler surprised everyone by playing almost 21 minutes in a win over the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden. He scored seven points but he left a bigger impression with the defense he played against Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks. Butler gained plenty of confidence in that game and that continued to propel him throughout the rest of the year.

Season lowlight: It's hard to pick a low point for Butler because so little was expected from him coming into the season, but he had to be frustrated in the playoffs. After improving throughout the end of the year there was some chatter that Butler may see some action in the playoffs -- but that didn't happen. Butler only appeared in three games for a combined 1:23.

Notes: Butler fit in nicely into the locker room because of his happy go lucky attitude. His jump shot became a little more consistent as the season rolled along but it was defense that the coaching staff and management were happiest about.

Quotes: "I think NBA wasn't an option when I stepped through these doors for the first time," Butler admitted before a February shootaround at Marquette, the same gym he used to practice in during college. "And when [Marquette coach] Buzz [Williams] started to coach me I was like, 'Wow, the NBA can't be like this. It's got to be way harder.' I had a difficult time when I first got here. You can ask anybody. But I think as time went on, as I got used to the college game, as I got used to being coached like that, and got used to the defensive mentality, I think I started to come around. Day by day, month by month, year by year, until I was ready whenever June came."

What's next?: Butler must continue to work on his jumper and prove to Thibodeau that he deserves more rotational minutes. He is scheduled to play in the Vegas Summer League which will be good for him because he didn't get that opportunity last summer due to the lockout. If Butler improves it will be easier for Gar Forman and John Paxson to let Ronnie Brewer and Kyle Korver go and save money for other areas.

Final grades -- Regular season: C Postseason: N/A

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
21.6 3.2 1.6 39.2
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsP. Gasol 10.5
AssistsD. Rose 5.0
StealsJ. Butler 1.6
BlocksP. Gasol 2.3