Former Chicago Bulls: Can Jimmy Butler win the title?

Former Chicago Bulls All-Star Jimmy Butler finally seems happy, and he might be closer to getting a championship ring than you think.

Who would’ve thought back on draft night in 2017 when the Chicago Bulls traded Jimmy Butler to the Minnesota Timberwolves, that three years later he’d be competing for a title with… the Miami Heat?

Butler’s seemingly been around the world and back since the Bulls let him go. He had an eventful (to say the least) time in Minnesota followed by a brief, relatively successful stint in Philly. Now, Butler actually seems happy, settled and ready to compete for a title. And the Heat are right there with him.

Can former Chicago Bulls star Jimmy Butler win the title this season?

On the surface, Jimmy Butler and Co. look like a solid playoff team, but not one that can actually compete for the title. They’re currently in fourth place in the Eastern Conference, sitting at a 41-24 record. But their regular-season record doesn’t tell the whole story. They actually pose as a huge threat to the East’s top team, the Milwaukee Bucks, meaning they also pose as a threat to any title contender.

The Bucks and Heat have played each other twice this season. The Heat came away with a victory both times.

A big part of the Heat’s success against the Bucks has been the emergence of Bam Adebayo. He’s done as good of a job as anyone could possibly do on Giannis Antetokounmpo. In the 2019-20 season, Giannis shot 34.8 percent from the field when guarded by Bam. That’s really good, especially considering Giannis is shooting 54.7 percent from the field on the season.

If the Heat want a chance at winning the title, they’ll have to beat more than just the Milwaukee Bucks, though, and that’s where Jimmy Butler’s star presence comes in.

Butler is arguably having his best season as a pro. Statistically, he’s been better. He’s only averaging 20.2 points per game and is shooting an abysmal 24.8 percent from 3-point land. But in terms of the impact he has on his team both offensively and defensively, this season stands out among the rest. The two areas Butler has launched himself forward in: free-throw attempts and assists.

This season, Butler is getting to the line 9.1 times per game. That’s elite, and it’s the type of offense you can rely on. He’ll always be able to get to the rim and draw contact. It doesn’t matter who they play; it doesn’t matter if he’s having a good shooting night. He’ll always be able to get to the line. He’s also averaging a career-high 6.1 assists in the Heat’s offense. He’s taken on the role of the lead playmaker and is doing a sensational job of getting his teammates open looks.

Thanks in large part to Butler’s brilliance, the Heat are leading the league in true shooting percentage and 3-point percentage. No, they haven’t won as many games as the Milwaukee Bucks, the Los Angeles Lakers or a few other of the league’s elite teams, but make no mistake: The Heat are the real deal and will make life incredibly tough on whoever they play in the playoffs, no matter the round.

I’d still bet on a team like the Lakers or the Bucks to win the title, but if any team is going to come out of the woodwork and surprise NBA fans, I’d bet on it being Jimmy G. Buckets and the Miami Heat.

Next: 5 former Bulls to root for in Orlando