Marco Belinelli or Jimmy Butler: Who Should Be the Bulls' Future 2-Guard?

James Tillman IIIAnalyst IMarch 30, 2013

Mar 27, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bulls small forward Jimmy Butler (21) celebrates with power forward Malcolm Thomas (3) during the second half against the Miami Heat at the United Center. The Bulls beat the Heat 101-97.  Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports
Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

Who should be the Bulls' starting 2-guard of the future—Marco Belinelli or Jimmy Butler?

Being that both players have played well in the starting lineup, the Bulls have an interesting dilemma on their hands.

While I have my own opinion on who would make the better 2-guard right now, I decided to research the stats before forming a conclusion.

Let’s take a quick look at the numbers for both players. 


Marco Belinelli

In the beginning of the season, Belinelli struggled to fit into the Bulls' rotation. He could always hit the outside jump shot, but playing the kind of defense that was pleasing to Tom Thibodeau was no easy feat.

However, once he was inserted into the starting lineup, both his confidence and his game began to grow.

In 43 appearances off the bench, Belinelli has averaged 7.9 points, 1.7 assists and 1.4 rebounds while connecting on 39 percent of his shot attempts.

As a starter, his per-game averages improved to 13.6 points, 2.7 assists and 3.0 rebounds, which indicates that he brings more to the team as a starter than a reserve.

Following a 113-95 win over the Golden State Warriors on March 15, Belinelli offered the following statement regarding his growth with the Bulls (per Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times):

“This is the most comfortable I have felt with any NBA team. I felt good as a player in New Orleans and every year since then, but this year has been different.”  

It should also be noted that Belinelli has played well at both guard positions and he if can continue to consistently perform at a high level, the Bulls would have to bring him back next season.


Jimmy Butler

Like Belinelli, Butler’s season did not get off to a great start, either. In fact, Butler did not see significant playing time until January, when he admirably filled in for Luol Deng for five games.

During that span, the second-year guard put up impressive numbers, averaging over 14 points and eight rebounds while playing 45 minutes per contest.

His most notable performance over that stretch came against the Los Angeles Lakers. Not only did Butler score 10 points and pull down eight rebounds, he limited Lakers star Kobe Bryant to just 16 points on 7-of-22 shooting from the field.

Butler’s overall numbers as a reserve are not overly impressive—6.7 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.7 assists.

But his averages as a starter are spectacular, to say the least. In eight appearances in the starting lineup, Butler’s stat line includes 15.5 points and 8.3 rebounds to go along with 2.8 assists per contest.

In addition to that, Butler is averaging over 18 points, six rebounds and three assists playing at the 2-guard spot during Belinelli’s recent absence.

Butler has made the most of his opportunities and had this to say about his emergence this season (per Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun Times):

“My teammates let me know what I can become in this league.They’re always on my side and always in my corner. That’s the biggest part to me.” 


Final Analysis

Based on the aforementioned information, determining which player would be best suited to take over the shooting-guard role could go in either direction.

Belinelli is a player who can hit the outside shot and take the ball to the basket. He has also shown the ability to play the point guard role effectively at times as well. The only downside is that he is not a great individual defender.

Butler is the more athletic player of the two, and he can score and be a presence on the glass as well. Butler is also physical, meaning he can defend against some of the bigger shooting guards in the league.

But opposing defenders often leave Butler open because of his inability to hit the perimeter shot with consistency.

As crazy as it sounds, I would give the nod to Belinelli right now because he has the greater body of work with regard to games played as a starter.

However, once Butler improves his outside game, he will have unlimited potential on both ends of the floor, and this will increase his chances of becoming the long-term solution for the Bulls at the 2-guard spot.


Whether you agree or disagree, feel free to drop me a line and let me know your thoughts.