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Thursday, September 19, 2013
Bulls player preview: Jimmy Butler

By Nick Friedell

With training camp almost here, Nick Friedell previews every player on the Bulls roster.

Jimmy Butler
Jimmy Butler stepped up in last season's playoffs when the Bulls needed him.

Jimmy Butler

Age: 23 | Pos.: SF | Salary: $1,112,880

Role for Bulls in 2013-14: Butler will be expected to build upon the strong foundation he laid for himself towards the end of last year. He comes into camp as the starting two guard and knows that he has to continue improving in order for the Bulls to keep winning. The Marquette alum may not be playing 48 minutes a game as he did during much of the playoffs last year, but if he can continue playing solid defense and hitting open jumpers he will be able to take the next step in his progression. It will be interesting to see how Butler performs alongside Derrick Rose, considering the pair didn't play much together in Butler's rookie season and didn't play at all together last year as Rose recovered from his knee injury.

What happened this summer?: Butler traveled through Asia and made an appearance at the ESPY awards as he enjoyed the perks that come with his rise to national attention in the playoffs. He spent plenty of time in the gym working on his game and knows that more pressure will be on him this year to produce. Butler also talked openly about the fact that he and his teammates aren't looking forward to seeing the Miami Heat get their rings on opening night. "I don't think anybody wants to watch that on our team so we won't pay too much attention to it," Butler said during an appearance on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN Chicago 1000 in July. "They deserved it. They won a championship, definitely, but they got to deal with the Chicago Bulls for 48 minutes coming out right after that, they get their rings."

What does the future hold?: Aside from Rose and Joakim Noah, an easy argument could be made that Butler has become the third most popular Bull on the roster. Fans appreciate how hard he plays and they enjoy his outgoing personality. The key for Butler is to not lose the work ethic that got him to this point. He must continue to develop his game -- a fact that his coaches are confident he will be able to with Rose’s help.

Bottom line: Butler may eventually play more of the three position, especially if his close friend Luol Deng leaves next summer, but for now he has to concentrate on knocking down his shots. Butler has a chance to make even more of a name for himself this season and seems excited about the opportunity.