Derrick Rose became the youngest MVP in NBA History in 2011 when he won the award averaging 25.1 points per game, 4.1 rebounds per game and 7.1 assists per game. Butler is averaging 25.6, 6.9 and 4.5.
Butler will be considered for the award, but with the Bulls mired in mediocrity, he is not likely to be in serious consideration. Timing is also extremely important. If Russell Westbrook is able to continue averaging a triple double, he will become the second player in league history to do so and would be a virtual lock for the award. Oscar Robertson did so in 1962.
It's debatable who is more valuable to their team, Butler this season or Rose in his 2011 MVP Year. Rose played on a team that finished with the NBA's best record to earn homecourt advantage and advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals.
Butler is playing on a team that is one game above .500 and seventh in the East four games before the halfway point of the season. Butler has also seemingly become the team leader. Dwayne Wade said it at his signing press conference and has reiterated since that this is Butler's team.
It never really was Rose's "team." The unquestioned team leader during the successful Thibodeau years was Joakim Noah. Many alluded to the fact that Noah was like a big brother to Rose.
Butler is also a far more efficient player offensively. During his MVP season, Rose shot 44.5 percent from the floor, made 33.2 percent of his three-point attempts and shot 85.8 percent from the free throw line. Butler is at 45.4, 38.6 and 88.1. The only edge Rose really has is on assist to turnover ratio. Rose was at 2.26, while Butler is at 2.14.
Butler's efficiency had come with a higher volume of three point attempts and free throw attempts. The two-time all-star averages 17.4 field goal attempts, 3.6 three-point attempts and 9.8 free throws per game. Rose was at 19.7 FGA, 4.7 3PA and 6.9 FTAs during the 2010-11 season.
Although not the point guard like Rose was (is?), Butler has the ball in his has a high percentage of the time. It was hard to imagine he would take his game a level up from last season. He has become something of a point forward similar to how Scottie Pippen was used during the 1990's.
Before becoming an elite scorer this season, Butler was also regarded as one of the NBA's best defenders. Rose did average 1.0 steal and 0.6 blocks per game during the 2010-11 season, but was no where near the one on one defender Butler is.
If Butler was a point guard could he post numbers that could climb even higher? The Chicago Sun-Times posed the question to Bulls Head Coach Fred Hoiberg two weeks ago:
“He can certainly be a facilitator. With the amount of energy he expends on the defensive end, is he a guy that’s going to dribble the ball down the floor every possession? It might take a little too much out of him. But as far as being a facilitator and getting the ball coming off a screen at the top of the floor with the live dribble, we feel a lot of times that’s where he’s at his best.’’
Rose also played with a better roster. He had more players to be able to take some of the scoring load off of him. While most fans would criticize Carlos Boozer, he averaged 17.5 PPG and shot 49.1 percent from the floor. Luol Deng was at 17.5 PPG in 2010-11.
With 45 games remaining and the Bulls on the fringe of the playoff hunt, Butler might still need to increase his statistical contributions. Wade has already sat out three games this season to rest. He is likely to sit out the second half of back to back the remainder of the season to keep him fresh for the playoff hunt.
Butler's stats across the board should rise in those games with Wade out. At 27 Butler is just entering his prime, if he continues to improve he could be discussed as one of the NBA's best and a candidate for first team All-NBA by the remainder of the season.