Jimmy Butler embracing leadership role


After a breakout 2014-15 season, Jimmy Butler is ready to prove to the NBA that it was not a fluke, and that he is indeed worthy of that $95 million extension he signed with the Bulls. Butler is a completely different player now compared to who he was when he entered the league, but one thing has never changed, his work ethic and love for the game. Now, he is the new leader of a Bulls team that has big goals for the season.

By now you have heard about the 5 a.m. workout sessions that Butler was participating in with his trainer during the summer. Butler was determined to improve on his game even more, knowing that his play is crucial for the Bulls to have a successful season.

Even after signing a huge extension, Butler is showing that the money won’t change who he is as a person or his work ethic. It is this aspect of his personality that has made him a star for the Bulls.

Butler came into the league as a quiet guy who did his job in practice and stood out because of his work ethic, defensive ability and humble approach to the game. He didn’t say a word and was never one to trash talk or speak his mind.

Fast forward 4 years later, Butler is now the leader of a Chicago Bulls team that has championship aspirations, and he is embracing that role. Being a leader for a team is about setting the tone in practices and games with your play and effort. Communication is vital as well, and after Thursdays practice, it was clear that Butler is pushing his teammates in the right direction.

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“It didn’t feel like he was on our team for a second,” second year player Doug McDermott said. “Talking crap to all of us. That’s just kind of the way he is. He has a completely different mindset. He really wants to win. It’s been really obvious the first few days of practice.”

This is the type of thing you love to hear about a star player. Getting into it with teammates in practice and motivating them is something all the legends did; like Jordan, Kobe, Bird, Magic, to name a few.

Whether it’s showing that competitive edge in practice or developing even more skills on the offensive end, Butler is proving to the Bulls that they made a wise choice in locking him up long-term.

New coach Fred Hoiberg has loved what he’s seen from Butler so far and believes the guard can make an even bigger leap this year. “I knew Jimmy was good before. But he’s been awesome,” Hoiberg said.

“He’s so strong right now. He’s in great shape and another guy where the amount of work he put in the summer is paying off. “He’s probably in the best shape of anybody out here. He’s all over the floor, offensively, defensively. There aren’t a lot of two-way players in this league but he’s definitely one of them.”

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  • Butler has talked all summer about how the Bulls need to stop talking about winning an NBA title, and that they need to just do it. Easier said than done. With Derrick Rose already getting hurt, Butler has to keep the spirit of the team positive and strong heading into the season.

    The Bulls are returning the same roster as last year, with the addition of Bobby Portis through the draft. Butler will need to take his game to another level on the offensive side of the ball for the Bulls to have a chance to win the title.

    What makes Rose so special, is that opposing defenses have to constantly game plan for him, whether he’s playing well or not. When Rose attacks the basket, the opposing defense collapses on him, and it frees up the rest of the Bulls players to operate and score easy baskets.

    Butler needs to get to this level of aggression towards the basket so that he attracts multiple defenders. Butler’s jump shot has improved immensely since he entered the league, but isn’t consistent enough where he can rely on it for easy buckets. Butler is at his best when he’s attacking the rim and putting pressure on the opposing defense.

    The Bulls floor spacing is going to be good under Hoiberg, so with penetration towards the rim, the perimeter shooters should have wide open looks all year.

    Rose is still the most important player for the Bulls, as they are not contending for a ring unless he’s healthy and playing. Butler however is the new leader of the team and is starting to come into his own as a star player. Once Rose comes back, those two have to develop a better chemistry with one another on the floor and play off each other.

    Being more vocal on the floor with his teammates is something Butler wanted to do more of this season. Butler seems to have embraced the role of being the prime leader of the team so far, and should continue to lead throughout the season. In the past he’s sort of taken a back seat to guys like Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson and Rose.

    Now that he’s a proven star in this league, Butler is ready to step up to the plate as the leader of the Bulls and take them to the promise land.