How far can Jimmy Butler go?

How far can Jimmy Butler go?

The fourth year swingman made his All-Star debut in February, could make his first All-NBA team early next month, and should be locked in for another All-Defensive team nod.

Adding to that is his play as a playoff performer where he's giving the Bulls 28 efficient points a night and generally looking like the future star of the organization.

This begs the question: Can Butler improve further, and if so, what's the ceiling?

About two months into the season, Butler was mentioned as an MVP candidate. He later dropped off, and missed games, which removed him from the conversation, and rightly so. But it might be difficult removing him in the future if he stays healthty and doesn't yo-yo in his performance.

Looking at Butler's versatility, and it's clear he's got a rather unique skill set. At a strong 6'7, 225 pounds, Butler can post up, slash to the cup with or without the ball, but you can't play him for the drive as he'll raise up and knock down jumpers. The mere fact that he gets to the line an absurd amount paints a picture of a player who at the end of the day could become a 25-point scorer, on great percentages no less.

When pointing to Butler's offensive weaknesses, one comes up a bit short. Sure he could crank up that long ball percentage a bit. And sure, improving his ball handling even more would make him virtually unguardable. But even so, at this stage of his career, he's got so many layers in which he can contribute, it's almost unfair.

His main competition for being the best shooting guard in basketball right now is James Harden and Klay Thompson. Moving past Harden might be tricky, but one could argue he's better than Thompson as his defense - in which Thompson is no slouch himself - is that much better. Where Thompson relies a lot on positioning and reads, Butler is more aggressive and disruptive, but never overestimates his own value, an important realization for any basketball player, but which few have.

Butler could realistically be the second best shooting guard in the league right now, and inch closer to Harden the next two years, albeit never exceeding him. At the least, becoming the best two-way two-man is something he could, and frankly should, cement by next year, if he hasn't already.

It should come as no surprise if Butler becomes a perennial All-Star and All-NBA performer over the next five years, and should a title reach his grasp in that time, it'd only further establish him as the superstar he's on his way to becoming.

Yeah, I said it. Superstar. Only, that description only fits as long as he continues stepping up his game in the playoffs. But somehow, it'd be surprising if he didn't.

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  • As far as Milwaukee?

  • In reply to Aquinas wired:

    Milwaukee sucks, and the Bulls will have secured their spot in the second round by Saturday night.

  • It is so great that Butler has become the shooting guard we have been waiting for for so long.

    So what is the most wanting position player the Bulls need next? Another pg? A center?

  • In reply to Sluggers:

    A small forward. We need an upgrade over Mike Dunleavy. I'm actually a fan of Dunleavy's game but I feel we can do a lot better at that position and who knows how McDeromott's gonna pan out. The potential is there offensively but my concern with McD is defensively. Unfortunely with his build and lack of any athletism i think he's always gonna struggle defensively at the NBA level. The only way I can see him being a solid defender is to sheer outwork opponents but that usually results in injuries to players over the long run because they over work themselves. That's the biggest problem with the Bulls right now and Doug only adds to it.

  • In reply to Sluggers:

    I 2nd the focusing of our Bulls needs to not just 'depth', but an 'upgrade' at the wing, specifically at 'starting' Small Forward. Ideal skill set would be:

    1. Athleticism overall to help on defense and rebounding
    2. Elite or good shooting, especially from 3 point range
    3. Willing defender as having athleticism isn't always enough
    4. Be able to play without the ball and ability to slash

    Not sure if this particular player is available for our Bulls to pick up next year and is at our price range, but this is what they should shoot for or compromise as best they can and fill as many of those needs in 1 player at the price they can afford.

    A thought I had was perhaps the Bulls may have been able to do that 'this year'. What I mean is instead of trying to add those skills to the starting lineup in the package of a Small Forward, why not move Jimmy back to SF and get one of the seemingly available SG via trade? As always I don't know if salaries will work but I'm referencing players like Aaron Afflalo and Kevin Martin. There is still that 'compromise' I mention above as even these veterans don't fill all of those skills I listed.

    In the end, I'm glad the Bulls never went that way as it's clear Jimmy has a more significant advantage and can better impact most games from the SG position and moving him back to SF would be a mistake. I'm confident our Bulls can get that upgrade at SF and keep Jimmy at SG. Perhaps we already have that upgrade (McDermott)? Maybe another player via FA or S&T (Tobias Harris)? Let's see how many of those skills our Bulls will have to compromise...

  • 1. Wing depth - We need to resign Dunleavy next year, but maybe we can do better... Will McDermott contribute eventually? Is Snell worth giving more time to? All I can say is that I'm not blown away by Snell's talent by any means. He may be ok for reserve depth.

    2. A PG (although Bulls generally easily fill this spot) - to hedge Rose's health over the next couple seasons

    3. Another big should we trade one of Noah/Gasol/Gibson. Drafting a 4th big or getting one on the cheap makes sense if we trade one of those guys in order to get Mirotic more playing time next season.

  • In reply to Granby:

    Whatever Snell is, he is clearly not a starting caliber SF, I doubt that he is a SF at all, other than emergencies or on a spot basis.

    I also think that McDNP's position is up for debate, SG or SF, he's probably a classic tweener, not big enough for one and not athletic enough for other(maybe either). I guess that will come down to whether he can defend either position.

    Would love to steal Henson from Milwaukee as Taj's replacement, but I doubt that they have any interest in moving him.

  • The Bull's future is very bright with potentially the combo of Butler and Rose being the best back court next year. The competition for the SF starting position next year will be between Snell and McD. Snell should lock himself into a gym during the summer to secure the SF starting position next year. I think he has the physical abilities. I am not too high on McD as I think he will end up being a one way spot up shooter only, so having him coming from the bench would be Okay.
    The Bulls front court may have another potential star on Mitotic. So, the critical positions to fill are a solid backup center and point guard IMO.

  • Jimmy is legit. He's a max guy and with the cap increasing the year after next it may go down as a decent deal by the end of it.

    I hate to say it, but I think the Bulls should look to trade Noah for a first... even if it's a future first and not considered to be a high 1st. Or, get a SF. Noah only has 1 year remaining on his deal and his next 4 seasons will be worse than the last 4. He may be decent, but his best years are behind him and he's offensively limited already. Given his recent performance, the contract amount, and that he only has one more year and left, I doubt we get much for him.

    Next couple years:
    PG: Rose, "IF" he stays healthy
    SG: Butler
    SF: ??? Resign Dunleavy? Snell or McDermott? Other FA?
    PF: Mirotic, Gibson
    C: Gasol, ideally, draft a rookie to groom over the next 2 seasons.

  • In reply to Granby:

    They should trade whichever big man (not Niko, obviously) brings back the best relative return and add a legit starter at the wing position. Dunleavy is best off the bench while Snell and McD are rotational players, not starters. I like the idea of trading Jo but with declining play and only one year left on his contract, I wouldn't expect much interest or much of a return. Taj is the best bet, IMO.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    I agree. Obviously, they need the starting wing - SF or SG. And Taj is the more likely trade guy.

    Interesting, now fans figure Butler belongs at SG whereas previously they thought SF was his more natural, hence better position.

  • In reply to rustyw:

    I personally have never thought it mattered a whole lot which wing position Butler plays. There are pros and cons to either position and defensively, he's going to cover the better opposing wing no matter what. Find the best wing you can to add to the team and have Jimmy play the other position.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    While I've always thought Butler was more SF than SG, after his massive improvement on offense this season I agree that finding the best starting wing that we can is the optimal solution and let Butler fill the other position.

    Taj and the Sacto pick to Sacto for Rudy Gay, can we do any better than that.

  • fb_avatar

    Jimmy's elevation into NBA's elite is directly attributed to his high basketball IQ. He reminds me of Scottie Pippen.
    The 2nd rd matchup against Cleveland will be his biggest test as to how far his ceiling can go.

  • In reply to Michael Cunningham:

    I totally agree with you, Jimmy has to make Lebron work and hopefully the refs give the Bulls a far shake. I just feel the NBA and the TV networks have to much at stake not to have Lebron in the NBA finals.

  • I am not quite as euphoric on Jimmy as Doug, but I do think Jimmy has the killer instinct that the great ones have. Exhibit A is that he bet on himself in contract talks. That means he is not willing to settle for just being good enough. He seems to want to achieve greatness. Good for him. I hope he gets there.

  • In reply to bjb57:

    you mean Mort, not Doug. I had to check, but it didn't feel/sound like Doug as I was reading the article, not better or worse, just a little different tone/style.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    You are correct. Sorry for that miss.

  • I was wrong as hell about J.B. I just never thought he'd develop a real consistent slashing game/adequate handle or be a real shooter. But he's done pretty well with both. Damn good actually

    Jimmy Butler is a very good player. But he seems to be an even better person. I still want to see if he can continue his high level of play throughout the playoffs. Also, defensively he's good, but not great especially on smaller wings/SG's. Bottom line though: Jimmy Butler has the type of heart and character you want to have on your team. Likely I would give him a near max deal and then match whoever and tell him I'd like him to stay a Chicago Bull for years to come. Provided he's stays driven as hell to be the best player he can be. Which I believe he will do. Astoundingly good pick up by Gar/Pax maybe their best job of drafting ever. In fact, until Niko and J.B. I would call their tenure a failure, but not anymore. A lot of possibilities in these next couple of years.

  • Side Note: people were talking about draft needs yesterday, and while I don't think it will happen I would acquire an early second rounder and draft Joseph Young. He's going to be a steal. Of course my last year's picks of James Young and Cleanthony Early have so far.. been underwhelming to say the least. But guys like Tiago Splitter and Patty Mills weren't just drafted based on need, but based on heart and translatable skills of which 'Mighty Joe' or more aptly 'Little Joe' has both. Please gar/Pax get this kid. Damian Lillard Jr.(Jr. = poor mans).

  • In reply to RoadWarrior:

    Well, don't feel too bad about missing on a few picks, Roman. GMs get paid big bucks to get it right, and they all have some misses too!

    If the Bulls FO had been on, they would have tried for Afflalo or similar before the trade deadline. For that matter, they would not have resigned Kirk, and they would have resigned Augustine! Both errors that many fans would not have made!

  • From a personality standpoint, Jimmy is much more suited to lead a team than Derrick, at least from what I can see. Jimmy is a tough, competitive, alpha male type. Derrick just seems like too nice a guy. I jumped the gun earlier this year stating "It's Jimmy's team now" but it just might be.

  • There is a part of me that still thinks this season is a contract year mirage and the best that Butler will ever be, that would be the Cubs fan in me, I guess.

    Butler seems to have willed himself into becoming a better player by working and studying hard in the offseason, can he do that again in future summers to become even better, that seems like a tall order.

    While I think that Butler might already be at the point where he makes the all defensive team on reputation alone, I'm not sure that he deserves all defense as much this season as he did last year, and his defense started to slip toward the end of last season, especially in the playoffs against Bradley Beal.

    I think we'd all be thrilled if he just keeps up this seasons play for the next 5 years, and wouldn't expect much more.

    To me, Barkley had it right when he said that Butler is a max player, but he is still a role player(on a championship team).

  • fb_avatar

    Butler is a flat out stud. He's going to be out key vs Cleveland. He's either going to have to slow LBJ down or if Bulls decide to put him in Kyrie and let LeBron score 45 and see what happens.

    Can't have them both avg 20+ against us. Also the big guys going to have to dominate inside and the off glass kinda like the celtics are trying to do.

    Bad news as I reported previously. Niko hurt and is out for game 3

  • I wonder if Butler has given any thought to signing a one year deal and waiting until the summer of 2016 to sign a long term deal, when the max salaries are expected to rise about 32% from this summers deals. Every free agent this summer, especially the younger ones has to be thinking about it.

    Max Salary Projections, 2014-2018(from ESPN)

    CATEGORY 2014-15 2015-16 2016-17 2017-18
    Actual Cap $63,065,000 $67,100,000 $89,000,000 $108,000,000
    Cap for Max $58,984,000 $63,074,000 $83,660,000 $101,520,000

    0-6 yrs,25% $14,746,000 $15,768,500 $20,915,000 $25,380,000
    7-9 yrs,30% $17,695,200 $18,922,200 $25,098,000 $30,456,000
    10+yrs,35% $20,644,400 $22,075,900 $29,281,000 $37,800,000

    So it looks like Butler could get a deal starting at $15.8 million this summer, one starting at $20.9 million next summer and $25 or $30 million the next summer since he might be a 7 year player by then.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    It's tempting, but I'd advise him to get paid first. Relatively speaking, he has not made much money since he was the last pick of the first round.

    Maybe a 2 year $30 mil deal (or $3 year $45 million deal) in the hopes of hitting it bigger while he's still in his prime. Even the way a lot of these guys spend, I would hope this would take care of he and his family for generations.

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