Chicago Bulls guard Jimmy Butler missed Wednesday's game because of a knee injury. However, he has been cleared to return to the court.
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Butler Active vs. Nuggets
Friday, Feb. 5
How Butler's Return Impacts Nuggets
Losing Butler for significant time would have been a devastating blow to Chicago's title hopes.
He turned into a legitimate NBA star last season and set career highs in scoring (20), rebounds (5.8) and assists (3.3) per game and is Chicago's unquestioned leader when it comes to perimeter defense. He is also a workhorse when healthy and led the NBA in minutes per game (38.7) in 2014-15.
Butler continued his ascension into superstardom this season and was averaging 22.4 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 1.7 steals a night prior to the injury, making the All-Star team as a reserve.
The Bulls have been injury-plagued once again this season, and Butler has been one of the few constants. Joakim Noah is out for the season, Nikola Mirotic is out until after the All-Star break, Mike Dunleavy has not yet played in 2015-16 and Derrick Rose has missed some games with various ailments.
Ultimately, Chicago needs Butler as its defensive anchor and primary offensive threat if it hopes to challenge for an NBA title or even advance deep into the Eastern Conference playoffs. Butler is the one who will be asked to guard the opponent’s best perimeter player on a nightly basis and find a way to score in double figures every night when the playoffs roll around.