Jimmy Butler is stealing the show. The second year swingman out of Marquette has Bull fans excited. Butler showed glimpses during limited play last season. A lockout and shortened season limited Butler last season. This season though, Butler is making the most of his playing time. Butler started in the Summer League back in Las Vegas showing his improved offensive capabilities. Butler has always been seen as a above average defender, but offensively there has been questions. With Deng out temporarily, due to a hamstring injury, Butler impressed in the starting lineup. Butler averaged 15.0 PPG in a 6 game stretch in the starting lineup. Deng returned Monday to the starting lineup and Butler returned to the bench. The real question is now have the Bulls found their answer at the shooting guard position with Butler?
A starting lineup with Butler and Deng playing side by side gives them a solid defensive wing lineup. Butler is a aggressive defender and his offensive game is improving. Butler is learning to consistently hit the mid range jumper. His shot is smooth and shows the ability to be effective. Butler takes the occasional three point shot, but needs to grow in that area. His time with former teammate, Ronnie Brewer, showed him how to effectively play the baseline. So why not start thinking about the 6'7" 220lbs Butler becoming the shooting guard the Chicago Bulls have been lacking.
Rip Hamilton is a system guy. His ability to hit the mid range jumper and run the court are effective. Hamilton, though, is injury prone and likely not with the Bulls in 2013-2014. Coach Tom Thibodeau should look at using Butler at the shooting guard position for the rest of this season. Butler should receive steady minutes at the position to see if he is capable of filling the role of a starting shooting guard next season. With Derrick Rose returning sometime in late February or early March, I would like to see how effective Butler and Rose can be in the backcourt. Till Derrick gets back though, Butler has been showing his high flying and aggressive game with is other teammates. Coach Thibodeau will likely be asked about minutes now since Deng is back. Coach Thibodeau will tell you on court play will dictate minutes. However, Butler's effectiveness allows Thibodeau to slowly bring back Luol Deng to avoid re-aggravating his hamstring. As Bulls color analyst Stacy King say during the broadcast, "Jimmy Butler is playing with extreme confidence". The ceiling for Butler is unknown, but I believe the Bulls may have found something in the late first round pick. With Thibodeau's coaching and Butler's desire to improve, the Bulls may have found a piece they have been searching for. Right now ,Jimmy Butler is exciting, but I have a feeling the excitement is just beginning. As Stacy says, "The hype is real Funk."
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