Last night, with the 30th pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, the Chicago Bulls selected Marquette forward Jimmy Butler. While all of us here are elated to see another MU player get drafted, much less 2 in the first round in consecutive years, I'm particularly excited. This means I get at least three more years of cheering for Jimmy Butler because I'm a Bulls fan.
All of those great "Jimmy's right where he needs to be and does the right thing at the right time" moments that we've grown fond of the last three years? I get three more years of JB doing those things for a team that's poised to stay near the top of the Eastern Conference for a long time. You might be asking: Why am I so confident that I'll get to see this from Jimmy? After all, he's a rookie joining up with the team that finished with the best record in the NBA last season. Well, let's look at that.
First of all, Butler's the exact type of player that can step into an NBA team immediately. When you enter the NBA with the mindset that Jimmy has, you're going to succeed. In his own words:
"I definitely think I'm going to be able to spread the floor out," he said. "I'm working on my outside shot. But my big thing is defense. I'm going to be a pest and make people work for everything."
"I'm going to take what [head coach Tom Thibodeau] has to say and put it in effect, no questions asked," Butler said. "Whatever he wants me to do, whatever any of my teammates want me to do, that's what I'll do. I want to be that guy who is coachable and will listen."
"I think I will be able to play (shooting guard) because you don't know how much time I'm going to spend in the gym to stay at this level for a long time. In order to do that, I have to get better at every aspect of my game, not just shooting. I'll be in the gym working on everything because no part of my game is perfect."
On top of that, Jimmy's the type of player that can succeed playing for Tom Thibodeau and the Bulls. It's not secret that the Bulls are a hardcore defensively oriented team. Do I even need to go into what Jimmy can do defensively here? As mentioned in this recap of the NCAA win over Xavier, he LITERALLY made Tu Holloway cry. So let's go to the other side of the ball.
Obviously, the Bulls already have multiple scoring pieces in place with 2010-11 NBA MVP Derrick Rose, Carlos Boozer and Luol Deng. So that means that JB will not be called on when the Bulls need a basket. But he can provide them with the kinds of scoring that he showed so much proficiency in at Marquette: putbacks, free throws, and hitting open jumpers. I know everyone (including Jimmy) is knocking his shooting right now. But how many times this past season did we see Jimmy knock down open midrange jumpers? And we know Butler has the touch to shoot from outside. Somehow he always seemed to hit the important three when MU needed it this year. All he needs to do is learn how to hit the wide open, slightly longer NBA 3 point shot, because he'll have tons of space to shoot with Rose taking it to the rim.
Last point I'll make: Jimmy Butler fits into the Bulls rotation immediately. Take what we already know about his defense and timely shooting and apply it to the Bulls roster. This is a team that last year had 3 different shooting guards averaging between 19.2 and 16.3 minutes a game. So right there is 48 minutes a game that's just waiting for someone to reach out and grab everything they can from it. In addition to that, the immediate logical spot for Jimmy to play, small forward, is occupied by Luol Deng in the starting lineup. However, Deng was out on the floor 42.9 minutes a game this past season, because the Bulls didn't have anyone else who could hustle after other small forwards. JB can step right in and ease Deng's workload, both in time spent on the floor and defensively, allowing Deng to be more productive on both ends of the floor.
At this point, the only question to me about how Jimmy Butler fits into the Chicago Bulls going forward is figuring out what number he'll wear. Chicago's #33 is retired, of course, in honor of another do anything small forward, Scottie Pippen.