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Since being spurned by LeBron James, the Chicago Bulls have been a remarkably overachieving team. The first two seasons they tied the Spurs with the most wins in the NBA. Then, this season, without superstar Derrick Rose as part of a plethora of injuries, they clawed their way to the second round of the playoffs.
During that time the Bulls have been in a seemingly endless quest for a shooting guard who can both shoot and guard. They’ve gone through players like Kyle Korver, who could shoot; Ronnie Brewer, who could guard; and Keith Bogans and Marco Belinelli, who could sort of do both but couldn’t really do either consistently.
Then they had Rip Hamilton, who couldn’t even stay on the court.
Jimmy Butler was selected with the last pick in the 2011 draft, and the following season he played decently though sparingly. He was pressed into starting duty late this season, and this postseason it became apparent what the Bulls had in him—their answer.
As a starter during the regular season and the postseason combined, Butler has averaged 14.1 points and 6.4 rebounds over 32 games, shooting .435 from deep with an effective field-goal percentage of .506. He can shoot.
And boy can he guard. During the second round, guarding LeBron James, when Butler was the primary defender, James shot just .375, according to tracking data by Synergy. If you can guard LeBron James, you can guard.
Bulls fans are salivating to see what will happen when Butler has the chance to play alongside Derrick Rose. For now, it looks like one big dilemma is solved in the Windy City.