Jimmy Butler, the Taj Gibson of perimeter players

Jimmy Butler, the Taj Gibson of perimeter players

Who didn't love the Jimmy Butler story when they heard it after draft night? It's hard not to love a hard working overachiever who's been through tough times in life but came out on top and remains humbled from where he's been. However, there's a ton of great guys in this world, and it doesn't mean I want them on my basketball team.

With Butler, the story was great, but was he more than a great story? Was he good enough? It wasn't a question I'd expect to answer this season. He'd have almost no training camp, a season nearly devoid of practice time, and six perimeter players ahead of him in the rotation. Yet, he may have answered it already.

He came into the Bulls saying he wanted to stick LeBron James. He wanted to stick Dwyane Wade. He sounded like a guy looking to make the all defensive team rather than win a scoring title. He knew where his strengths were before stepping onto the court. He knows his role and puts 100% of his energy into doing it the best he can. He has the perfect mentality for his skill set, and a skill set which many players could have but refuse to develop despite its value.

In his limited minutes, he's already shown plenty of signs that he's the real deal. He's shut down Carmelo Anthony twice. He stopped LeBron on three straight possessions while LeBron called for the ball to take advantage of the match up. Sure, those guys will score on him plenty in his career, but he's gone through trial by fire against the best and come out of it playing more like a defensive MVP candidate than an end of the draft rookie. [obviously he doesn't have the minutes or body of work to contend for an award before anyone gets carried away]

Even at this early stage of his development, it's clear he can defend, has the right attitude, and will stick in the NBA. He's the perimeter version of Taj Gibson. He came into the league a little older than the typical player, without a superstar ceiling, without much offensive game, but with a great attitude and defensive presence.

The Bulls did it again. They took a pick in an area where more than half the guys selected aren't out of the league or out of the rotation before the end of their rookie contract and grabbed themselves a player who can step up and contribute for a team trying to win a championship. He can play defense, even against the best. He plays with intensity and effort, and Chicago won't think twice about putting him on the floor in a big moment.

It's not an easy thing to do, not when you have no entitlement minutes, not with this much depth on the team, and not when you're trying to win a championship this year rather than "develop" players. Credit the scouts and credit Gar, with the exception of Tyrus Thomas over LaMarcus Aldridge, this team has been dynamite in the draft [even James Johnson looks like a solid defensive role player while getting more burn in Toronto].

With tough financial decisions to make in the off-season and three perimeter players on non guaranteed contracts, Butler's role looks to get a whole lot bigger next season. Despite limited minutes, I already feel comfortable he can manage it.

Filed under: Players

Tags: chicago bulls, jimmy butler, nba



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  • One thing that you have to like about Butler on the offensive end, he's obviously not a polished offensive player yet, but he seems to have a knack for drawing contact and getting to the line. That's definitely a plus for a guy who's not a lights out shooter.

  • I've always felt like the kid is ready to contribute on both ends of the floor. He's young but you can see the confidence from him. It's up to Ruins to work him into the rotation when the entire team is healthy, he could be a big difference maker come playoff time especially on the defensive end of the floor.

  • Thibs better run some offense through Jimmy to give him some confidence especially against Portland, Toronto kind of teams. He seems very tentative on offense(obviously). This team needs offense as we all know. I think JL3 is another piece as we have found out. Maybe Rip can do that...but we have never seen him much;-). We just a couple of role players who can make an athletic move and make a jump shot 50% of the time or in the last 6 minutes. JL3 can definitely do that(as he has no fear) unlike Korver, Brewer. Hopefully, Jimmy can do a bit of that.

  • Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson are examples of what staying in school for 4-years does. Gar and Pax have done a great job drafting in recent years. I really hope we keep the rights to Nikola Mirotic cause I'm excited to see this guy in a Bulls uni.

  • In reply to ManOnNeptune:

    Wesley Matthews, Jr. (of Portland) is another example of a 4-year senior exhibiting maturity upon entering the NBA.

  • GF got me tickets to the game tonight-- and no, I'm not dating Gar Forman! lol Anyone have any updates on Rose? I'm assuming he's not playing, which I'm perfectly fine with. However, it would be nice to know the severity of his groin injury. I couldn't find anything in the Trib.

  • In reply to Jmax:

    I read somewhere that Rose probably won't play at all this weekend...I can only assume that means today and tomorrow.

  • "Heat star LeBron James repeatedly whacked at Deng’s wrist, a practice more teams are employing."


    Really! I noticed Chalmers and Battier defending like thugs but not LeBron. Good thing the American public repeatedly whack at LeBron's ego everyday!

  • In reply to Jmax:

    I am almost sure LeBron/Wade will go to any level this season as is it almost their last chance to win in a way. I know they are young. But, if they lose this year....the mental beating is going to be too much for them. Battier is basically all wrestling and no basketball from what I have seen. The Heat are like a more talented version of the 90's Knicks.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    If Dirk can recover from his mental beating to win, this is by no means LeBron and Wade's last chance.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Big difference....almost everyone always said that Dirk's team never plays defense even in 2005/06 and never game them favorites to win it all in the playoffs. And you know the pressure on LeBron as one of the greatest players ever compared to Dirk not even in the top 5 PFs ever until last year's playoffs(the perception).
    Off-course, they have more chances and will be a good team as long as LeBron is healthy but from his 4th quarter displays, I doubt it.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    agree, as long as Lebron and Wade are healthy the heat are no less than co favorite to win it all.

    In fact, given the Cleveland experience, I would say that as long as Lebron is healthy they are co favorites.

  • Butler is definitely no zombie on offense, his jumpshot kinda sucks but he's not afraid to shoot and he attacks the rim on the fast break and draws contact. I can definitely see him as being the ideal defensive 'role player' but I don't think he will be a zombie on offense, he has shown some aggressive moves and his jumper will improve. He even said Taj Gibson is the player that he likes to model himself on which is great. As for Tyrus over LaMarcus, Aldridge has a heart condition and the Bulls after the eddy curry scare didn't want to take any risks so they went with the 'high potential' guy with raw athleticism instead of the better skilled player. The Bulls overall have done a solid job drafting quality players that can contribute. Maybe the downside is they do not like to take chances on high ceiling guys like Marshon Brooks who they probably thought was going to be a knuckle head chucker who plays no defense. They are a bit conservative but after being burned by the Tyrus and James Johnson experiments, I can't blame them too much.

  • In reply to Defense-Rebound13:

    Butler may be a piece to help take down the Heat.
    1) He plays strong defense.
    2) He makes his freethrows, and he has good form doing it.
    3) The Heat players do not intimidate him.

    BTW, that was one of the best things about Lucas - the Heat did not intimidate him either - No way! In the ECF last year, several of the Bulls did look intimidated. If all Lucas does is have solid games against the Heat, he will become a very popular guy around Chicago.

    The Bulls guards, especially Rose, need better recognition. Almost evey game, and sometimes several times per game, they will dribble into a crowd. I can see it oming and I think, "He's gonna get stripped of the ball!" and sure enough it happens. Why can't they see this coming? Insanity: keep doing the same thing but expect a different outcome.

    Ditto with passes into a big man surrounded by 3 defenders. Watch, it happens too often, and usually results in a TO.

  • In reply to Defense-Rebound13:

    Aldridge's heart condition was not known at the time of the draft. That was a pure miss on the Bulls part, but I do think they've been great drafting overall.

  • In reply to Defense-Rebound13:

    I agree, Butler though raw is not a shrinking violet on offense.

    He is probably ahead of Taj as a rookie, and I would suggest that he will ultimately be a better offensive player than Brewer

  • Not entirely relevant for today's conversation, however this is an all around good read for basketball fans. Makes me proud that I graduated from KU.


  • I like Jimmy Butler but I would have preferred they'd gotten Mirotic and traded up for MarShon Brooks as well.

  • On a ligher note, I was glad to read this:

    "He came into the Bulls saying he wanted to STICK LeBron James. He wanted to STICK Dwyane Wade."

    I think this is Chicago slang, as everybody else seems to say "check" instead of "stick." Being a Chicago guy in exile, it's like a little slice of home. Now if I can get people to understand it's "pop" instead of "soda" and what a "two-flat" is, I'll be happy.

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    This kid has no fear! Carmelo who? Lebron Who?

  • fb_avatar

    No move by Chicago = best record in the NBA, again. Lose to the Heat in the playoffs, again.


  • Butler is looking like a terrific pick at No. 30. Great person(ality), athletically solid with a particular skill that the team can make good use of which is multi-posiition defensive stopper.

    I don't think you can argue that the Bulls in Gar and Pax have not done a good job drafting. I looked back on the drafts since Paxson arrived, and looking at the CW all the players in the same area of the draft they generally picked the right guy.

    I remeber thinking Joakim was a huge mistake, and wanted them to take a scorer like Al Thornton which would have been a huge mistake. I feel like I know a lot more about the draft process now, but how can you complain about Omer, Mirotic, Taj, and now Jimmy Butler? Really, you can't.

    The thing that is becoming more and more clear to me is that successful NBA players just have a presence about them. That doesn't mean they are always good guys or won't go south on you which ultra cash and leech friends don't make it easy. But most times I see guys who don't make it they just come across as nothing special in their presence or personalities.

    The problem is with kids or young people you may only get small glimpses of what they will become or are developing into. That's why when I watch college propects I try to pay as much attention as I can to their demeanor when play stops timeouts etc. It takes many games really.

    You look at Taj, Lu, JImmy Butler, Derrick when he's in his more extroverted moods, Joakim etc. etc. These guys stand out as people. Where as a Javale McGee, Tyrus Thomas, a Kwame Brown, those guys appear anywhere from blase to downright negative. It takes time to tell about a person, but that's part of a G.M.'s job IMO

    When it comes to assessing personal presence and character as notable, exceptional, or at least positive as in even a laid back guy like C,J., the Bulls get just get it. And that's huge.

    Those are the guys I will be looking for in this year's draft, and so will the Bulls. Just that they may be slight bit better(ha, ha) on the talent aspect relating to success in the NBA then I am.

    The depth of this year's draft may make it possible to gain another quality rotation guy even at No. 30. A guy like Jeff Taylor certainly stands out to me as an exceptional competitor I would want to have on my team. But he will be gone likely before our pick. Darius Johnson-Odom ability wise and competitor is right there. Though I haven't seen him enough to have to much of an opinion on his presence or attitude, but on court he will get it done as in contribute in the NBA IMO.

  • Butler reminds me of Trenton Hassell, very good defender, average offensive game. Nice pickup, still like MarShon Brooks because we needed more scoring. Slightly off topic, but the Rockets waived Terrence Williams... We should pick him up as Deng/Hamilton insurance...

  • In reply to RC360:

    Yeah, he'd be good as Rasual Butler 2.0

  • In reply to Tyler Soze:

    I think he'd be better than that as he's a better athlete. He played well in NJ when given time

  • I follow draft prospects like most fans, but I've learned not to fool myself into thinking I know better than the GM. While I was correct in wanting Aldridge instead of Thomas (and Michael Finley over Jason Caffey back in the day), I also wanted Hawes over Noah and *gulp* Beasley over that undersized 2 guard with no jumpshot. I'm content to let the pros do their job. So far, GarPax has done pretty well outside of the one glaring error.

  • In reply to Tyler Soze:

    Good point. Most fans keep shouting on blogs about their evaluation capability by watching a couple of games as if they are some special talent guru. Look at Jeremy Lin....two/three teams couldn't figure him out even after he played in training camps that he is a decent NBA PG. So, I can't even imagine how can anyone absolutely say anything about a prospect based on college games.
    The only problem now with the Bulls is they have too many specialists(Korver, Butler, Boozer, Asik, Noah) to use in a trade. Developing Jimmy Butler into a decent 2-way player helps either as a contributor or as trade bait.

  • In reply to Tyler Soze:

    I had the same view of Beasley, but mostly because I saw more of his games and he was listed at 6'10"... I didn't like how Aldridge got muscled around by Big Baby in college, so I wanted Brandon Roy...who was great, but we all know how that ended... I think it's a natural part of being a fan to question our teams decisions, or lack there of... It doesn't mean we're not the same fans, but just have different ideas. Jimmy Butler is a solid player with a great story, but as many thought Brooks was the choice to make in the draft, it's hard to argue... Either way we have a great team when healthy, and health is my main concern at this point... Deng's injury isn't going away, Hamilton hopefully gets healthy, and Rose keeps developing something new (toe/back/groin). It's still the regular season, but I don't wanna face a Bucks in the playoffs with an injured team...

  • http://espn.go.com/chicago/nba/story/_/id/7695530/no-move-good-move-chicago-bulls

    Nice article by Wilbon, has some good stats that give good perspective on the Bulls not making any moves at the trade deadline.

  • In reply to NateTags:

    Good read, I am surprised given all the advanced stat geeks that we have on this site, that no one has pointed out that the Bulls are #1 in offensive efficiency, pp100 possessions, I believe.

    I find this particularly interesting considering the fact that none of our players are individually elite offense efficiency players.

    In fact without knowing, I would bet that the bulls best offensive efficiency player is the Matapussy.

    So maybe, as I always contend, fantasy league stats don't matter after all, and you do have to watch the games(not crunch stats)to actually have a clue as to what is really happening.

  • Jimmy Butler's defensive acumen and overall fundamentals were on display during the Indiana Pacer preseason game. Remember?

    But it took a serious injury to Deng for Thibs to give the rookie some non-blow-out minutes. Glad Butler got the minutes, not happy about Deng's injury. Myself and a few others on this blog were clamoring for Butler to get some legitimate minutes even when Deng was healthy.

  • In reply to Edward:

    He was definitely short sited. Rookie Players can become contributers if they play and learn(Taj Gibson) as an example. Butler is intriguing because even though he is very hesitant on offense, he could become a nice 10 point scorer with great defense in a sixth man role off the bench, being that he can play both spots and can have 25 minutes, kind of what Hinrich did in being the backup to the shooting guard and point guard when he was here.

  • Gar and Pax have drafted a number of good character guys. Noah, Taj, Asik, Butler. And their acquisitions in free agency were mostly good character guys as well Brewer, Korver, Watson, Kurt Thomas, Bogans,

    The good character player seems to match with GarPax's identity. Perhaps they can identify this type of individual as it seems to be who they are as people as well.

    But Bulls have been poor at evaluating upside talent. Rose at 1.7% was blind luck so I can't give GarPax much credit for that. I and most fans had Rose over Beasley before the ping pong ball hit the floor.

    But LaMarcus Aldridge in 2006 was a pure talent mis-evaluation.
    Missing on Marc Gasol in the 2nd round of 2007 (Hello, Shakes) was not a talent mis-evaluation but a strategic blunder.

    Either way missing on two All-Stars is not good. It's the last thing Gar Pax need to show they are capable of - acquiring another legitimate All-Star without the benefit of 1.7% blind luck.

  • How about drafting our look term solution at SG on this year's draft. Since GarPax are very creative in getting the talent they want, how's we move up the draft while using Asik as our trade bait and select Bradley Beal or Austin Rivers. Both would fit perfectly with Derrick Rose.
    I'm sure there are teams out there who are intrigue by Asik and who are to trade their lottery pick to clear cap space for the 2013 Free Agency.

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