Chicago Bulls Fan Fridays: Jimmy Butler’s Sluggish Start


Every Friday here at Pippen Ain’t Easy, we’ll take the time to answer questions about the Chicago Bulls and the rest of the NBA overall. So, without further adieu, here’s the fifth edition of Fan Fridays here at PAE.

Rejoice, Chicago Bulls fans.

After today, the games will actually count for something. The Bulls finish up their eight-game preseason schedule on Friday night in Lincoln, Nebraska (which is sorta weird) against the Dallas Mavericks. No disrespect to the fine people of Lincoln, Nebraska, but it just seems like a weird place to have a NBA preseason game.

To be completely fair, Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg was born in Lincoln, Nebraska, and was actually recruited by Tom Osborne, the long-time head coach of the Nebraska Cornhuskers football program. So, there’s actually a connection for Friday’s game.

As for the game being played on Friday, there’s been a few interesting developments: Derrick Rose (facial surgery) will play for the first time all preseason and Joakim Noah will begin his new role off the bench up front.

ALSO AT PIPPEN AIN’T EASY: Derrick Rose Will Play Friday Night vs. Dallas

However, the focus here at Pippen Ain’t Easy today is the new co-face of the franchise: Jimmy Butler. After a tremendous leap into stardom during the 2014-15 season, the Bulls rewarded Butler with a brand-new five-year deal, worth northwards of $90 million. Just like the rest of the roster, Butler is learning a couple new systems, while trying to find his role in for the new-look Bulls. There’s been some good and bad for Butler so far, and that’s what our featured question is about this week.

So, without any more delay, here’s the next installment of “Fan Fridays” here at PAE.

Question from Twitter user @MiroGOAT: Should we be concerned over Jimmy Butler’s poor play during this preseason?

It has been an odd preseason for Jimmy Butler. He came out guns a-blazin’ against Milwaukee during the Oct. 6 opener at home, but he’s been relatively quiet since his 23-point, six-assist showing 17 days ago.

Since the opener, Butler has shot just 21-for-71 from the field (a shade under 30 percent). That’s not good. The rebounds and assists have been there for Butler, but your new max-player shouldn’t be missing 50 of his 71 shot attempts in a six-game span.

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But, the beauty of the situation is, the games don’t matter. They do to some degree, but it’s later October. The NBA season ends in the middle of April. Jimmy Butler will be just fine. He’s a tireless worker who is only going to get better when the Bulls get Derrick Rose and Mike Dunleavy back into the rotation full-time.

This new regime is different for everyone. I had my own doubts about Butler long before Rose and Dunleavy were on the shelf. I was worried about the amount of touches he would receive in this new, upbeat system. But, great players find ways to make things happen. Jimmy Butler is a fantastic NBA player. Has his shot selection and defense taken a step back so far this (pre)season? Yes. But, it’s nothing to fret over just yet.

If this is the Jimmy Butler we’re seeing in March and April heading towards the postseason, then you might want to keep that panic button near by. But for now, hang tight. It’s going to take some adjustments, but Butler and the Bulls will be fine.

Next: Fan Fridays No. 4: Defense and Realistic Expectations

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