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Projected Stats: 14.2 Points, 6.3 Rebounds, 2.9 Assists
Jimmy Butler exploded into the national limelight during the Eastern Conference Semifinals because of his defense against the world’s greatest player, LeBron James.
There’s actually considerable room for him to go up, especially on offense.
After assuming the starting role as the shooting guard at the end of the regular season, Butler was impressive. Through 14 games, he averaged 14.5 points, 6.4 boards and 2.8 assists per game in 42.4 minutes. He shot an otherworldly 52.8 percent from three over that frame.
Those numbers were somewhat beefed up because of the volume of minutes. On the other hand, contrary to general perception, he was never close to the first option on the Bulls—or even the second, or third or fourth.
In fact, he was dead last on the Bulls in usage percentage, using a mere 14.6 percent of Bulls possessions while on the court. Even at the end of the season, that rose only to 15.3 percent.
Among all NBA players, only one player, Tyson Chandler, managed more Win Shares with a lower usage.
There’s room for Butler to grow, especially when you consider that he’s spent the entire summer working on every aspect of his game. It’s work which earned this effusive praise from Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, via K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune:
I get a kick in the offseason, everyone's had a great summer, everyone looks good, but Jimmy actually puts the work in. He doesn't have to say anything. You look at him and his actions tell you what he's doing. There are no shortcuts with him. He puts the work in and gives you a solid day's work.
Thibodeau has seen a lot of players come back from offseasons in his years in NBA coaching. That Butler’s offseason stands out is telling, but what’s most telling is that Thibodeau is gaining more confidence in Butler. That means Butler’s usage should go up.
And Derrick Rose being back to set the table for him shouldn't hurt.