DAR Sports: NBA Player Profile- Jimmy Butler

By @TrueGodImmortal

No. 21 for the Chicago Bulls is currently making a name for himself in the NBA. As his rise continues, we are currently looking at a star in the making. The Bulls haven't had a star besides Derrick Rose on the team and outside of the small idea that Carmelo would end up as a Bull earlier in the off season, there hasn't been a big name to truly set Chicago on fire, until now. Jimmy has a story of triumph, pain, and hurt over the years that all led to his success in the NBA and it is those moments that shaped him into not only the player he is today, but the man he is today.

Abandoned by his father at a young age, as well as his mother when he was 13 years old, Jimmy would have basketball success in high school but not enough to get into a serious college to further his career in sports. He ended up attending Tyler Junior College and captivated some eyes in the Division I program, which led him to being recruited to Marquette for his sophomore, junior, and senior years. He would experience successful years with Marquette, particularly his junior and senior season and would of course be eligible for the NBA Draft. He would be selected in the 1st round, as the 30th pick by the Bulls, and his rookie season would be pretty underwhelming, as he would come off the bench in 42 games of the shortened lockout season.

It would be the second half of his second season after Luol Deng suffered an injury that Jimmy would begin to get more playing time and become a starter. Up until that point, Butler hadn't really had a huge game, but he would put up a then-career high 28 points against the Toronto Raptors near the end of the 2012-2013 season. The 2013-2014 would be when he started to find his groove, as he would become an official starter for the Bulls and maintain a high level of production throughout the season, earning himself a spot on the NBA All-Defensive second team. With his stock rising, his game improving, and his name starting to buzz, Jimmy was poised for a big 2014-2015 season.

He had a huge 2014-2015 season, averaging 20 points a game, 5.8 rebounds a game and getting nominated to the All Star Game. That was a huge moment for Butler and a huge moment for the Bulls as well, as they have a new star growing. That moment would be expanded even more when Jimmy would end up winning the award for the Most Improved Player that season, making him the first Bulls player to win that award. He would be named Eastern Conference Player of the month for November 2014 as his play was superb during that period (including a game or two at the end of October). He would showcase his growing leadership skills in the playoffs during this season, as he helped lead the Bulls to a victory over the Bucks in the first round, and would help the Bulls compete heavily against the Cavs before a 6 game series loss.

It was becoming apparent that while Derrick Rose was still struggling with health issues that Jimmy Buckets was on his way to becoming the new leader of this Bulls team. He's picking his spots, shooting precise, attacking the basket, driving the lane, and playing hard defense. Jimmy is becoming one of the most well rounded players in the entire NBA to be quite honest. The Bulls seemed to notice this as well apparently, because they signed Jimmy to a 5 year, 95 million dollar contract during the offseason. A lot of folks, myself included saw the growth in Jimmy Butler, but weren't so sure if he was worth the near 100 million dollar contract. A contract of this magnitude seems reserved for a franchise player. A leader. 19 million dollars a year? Was Jimmy Butler worth that money? Would we get an answer to that in the 2015-2016 season?

30 plus games into this season, we have an answer to that question. That answer is yes. As long as he stays healthy, Jimmy is worth every penny of that contract without a doubt. He's proven doubters and naysayers wrong time and time again, and his work this season for the Bulls has been nothing short of masterful. Averaging 22.1 points so far this season, Butler has begun to truly heat up and he's displayed some toughness during this season. Despite rumors of issues between Rose and Butler, Butler has preserved and lead the Bulls to a 21-12 (as of this writing) record near the halfway point of the season, and they are currently in the no. 2 spot in the Eastern Conference. They are currently on a 5 game winning streak and that has a lot to do with Butler and his exquisite play so far this season.

Butler is definitely a front runner for the NBA All Star Game, and he's put up some amazing performances so far this season. On December 9th 2015, he put up an amazing 36 points against the Celtics in a loss. At that point, he broke his career high record. He would only need 9 days to break that record again, scoring 43 points in an epic quadruple overtime game(and loss) against the Detroit Pistons. Butler was on fire through the month of December, and that continued with his record breaking performance against the Raptors on January 3rd, as he led the Bulls back from a sizeable deficit to win the game 115-113. He would finish with 42 points in the game, but would record 40 of those 42 points in the second half, breaking the previous Bulls record set by Michael Jordan for most points in a half. As if that wasn't enough, he would turn around 2 games later and lead the Bulls to a 117-106 win over the Bucks with a tremendous double-double of 32 points and a season high 10 assists.

With all the momentum in the world behind him, all the talent he possesses and a will to lead and win, we could be seeing the start of the next legendary shooting guard for the Bulls. Granted, there will never be another quite like the shooting guard who wore no. 23 for the Bulls, but maybe we could see no. 21 obtain his own legacy and rise to legendary status. Only time will tell. However, right now, the odds are in Butler's favor.



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