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Jimmy Butler and Malcolm Thomas: Valuable Pieces for Bulls with Playoffs Looming

CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 09:  Jimmy Butler #21 of the Chicago Bulls puts up a shot in front of Amir Johnson #15 of the Toronto Raptors on his way to a game-high 28 points at the United Center on April 9, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. The Raptors defeated the Bulls 101-98. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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James Tillman IIIAnalyst IApril 10, 2013

The bad news for the Chicago Bulls is they dropped their second straight game with a 101-98 loss to the Toronto Raptors on April 9.

Although the loss will put to rest any hopes the Bulls had of overtaking the Brooklyn Nets for the fourth spot in the playoff picture, there were a couple of silver linings from this game that are worth mentioning.

 

Jimmy Butler

As any Bulls fan already knows, Butler has blossomed in his second year with the team and the outing against Toronto was yet another indicator of what he is capable of.

Butler recorded 28 points (career high), to go along with seven rebounds and two assists.

The solid stat line stands on its own merit, but what was even more impressive was that he played the entire 48 minutes, connecting on 10 of his 12 field-goal attempts.

With Butler improving each game, the question has been raised as to whether he deserves consideration as the team’s future 2-guard.

Per Nick Friedell, Butler offered the following response to that question:

"It brings a smile to my face, obviously. But I try not to get too caught up in the future because it's not promised. You never know what could happen. Right now I live for the moment and I praise every moment that I'm given because it's a blessing.”

With the departure of Rip Hamilton all but imminent this upcoming summer, it will be interesting to see how Butler will fit into the team’s future plans.

 

Malcolm Thomas

Thomas was recently signed by the Bulls for the remainder of the season, but he had yet to play significant minutes.

In fact, the young forward had played just a total of one minute over the previous 10 games.

However, that trend would change for the better in the game against the Raptors.

In 26 minutes of action, Thomas scored six points (3-of-6 shooting), grabbed eight rebounds and handed out two assists.

An impressive outing when you consider the fact it was the first time he has played extended minutes during his time with the Bulls.

Per Nick Friedell, Thomas summed up his performance with the following statement:

"I was running the floor, rebounding, trying to block shots. That's what I like to do and that's what I'm here for."

While Thomas has a long way to go with regards to fully acclimating himself to Tom Thibodeau’s system, this game shows he has the potential to become a valuable addition to the Bulls with both Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson out with injuries.  

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