Fact: Jimmy Butler deserves a spot in this year’s All-Star Weekend.
Anyone who follows me on Twitter should not be at all surprised to hear those words come out of my (metaphorical) mouth. I’ve been driving the Jimmy Butler bandwagon since July and it has been immensely gratifying to see him both get increased playing time in recent weeks and also take advantage of it.
Allow me to clarify: No, I do not believe Jimmy Butler is an all-star. I may love him, but I’m not crazy. But, as I’ve written before, he certainly should have made his way into the BBVA Rising Stars Competition. And really, I would say he’s getting close to a point where you could argue for his inclusion in the dunk contest. I mean, look at how high he gets here, and how utterly unimpressed he is by this dunk.
Let’s look at the numbers. Butler is averaging 7.2 points and 3.5 rebounds in 22 minutes per game, and shooting 48.9 percent from the field to go with 86.8 percent from the line. He’s rivaled only by Luol Deng — one of the single best wing defenders in the NBA — for his perimeter defense on the Bulls, and has been revealed to be a surprisingly decent passer. He’s also an elite offensive rebounder — for his position or otherwise — and while his jumper is still very much a work in progress, his cutting is solid and he always seems to know where to be on the floor offensively.
Basketball-Reference tells us that the Bulls are 7.5 points per 1oo possessions better with Jimmy on the floor than they are with him off. All due respect to Nikola Vucevic and Brandon Knight — neither of whom are bad, by any stretch of the imagination — but Jimmy should have made it over both of them. He may not be the best scorer ever, and that’s what traditionally gets noticed by the people in charge of the rookie-sophomore game, but if Taj Gibson can make it in his rookie year, Jimmy should be able to make it in his sophomore year.