This past season was a breakout season for Chicago Bulls‘ small forward Jimmy Butler. Butler, who earned a reputation for his defense, quietly became a successful two-way player for the Bulls during the 2012-2013 season.
Butler’s coming out party was not until the postseason as the forward improved upon his season averages. During the regular season, Butler averaged 26 minutes per game to go along with 8.6 points per game and 4 rebounds per game.
In the playoffs, Butler–who was playing in the place of an injured Luol Deng–brought his game to the next level. Butler averaged nearly 41 minutes per games during the playoffs including a string of games in where the small forward played the entire game for the Bulls. In addition, Butler averaged 13.3 points per game during the playoffs including 15.6 against the Heat. Butler also averaged 5.2 rebounds per game.
Butler’s play during the playoffs certainly has impressed many including Bulls’ head coach Tom Thibodeau. So much so that Thibodeau suggested Butler will start next season for the Bulls.
But coach Tom Thibodeau confirmed one certainty:Jimmy Butler will be starting next season.
“I don’t see why not,” Thibodeau said Friday. “The way he played this year, he earned that spot. He has great versatility. He became much more confident and competent — running pick-and-rolls, catch-and-shoot, putting it on the floor, posting up. His improvement offensively was tremendous. And his defense has gotten better and better, and will continue to improve.”-Tom Thibodeau, Chicago Tribune
That certainly does not come as a surprise. Many were calling for Butler to be inserted into the starting lineup during this past season in a scenario that would have paired him with Luol Deng.
That pairing will likely be a part of the Bulls’ starting lineup when the 2013-2014 season starts. A lineup that should also include a returning Derrick Rose, Carlos Boozer, and Joakim Noah.
The Bulls are not expected to make significant additions this off-season, though, with Rose returning and Butler added to the starting lineup; Bulls fans will no longer have to ask “what if?”.