City Sports Report

Jimmy Butler: The Gambler

Jimmy Butler has taken it to the next level (picture courtesy of


Jimmy Butler had a decision to make before the season. He was offered a four-year, $40 million dollar deal by the Chicago Bulls before the season. Does he accept it and become the shooting guard permanently entrenched in the Bulls lineup? Or does he take a chance and try to make more? Jimmy has been a gambler his whole life. He gambled on himself to be a basketball player when he didn’t receive much attention from recruiters his senior year. He believed in himself when coming out of junior college after one season of play to go to Marquette. And he also believed in himself as he was drafted late in the first round by the Bulls and not getting much playing time at the beginning of his career. As a result of that fight and belief in himself, Butler turned down the offer from the Bulls and decided to bet on himself. And from the looks of it, Jimmy, like always, put in the work to prove he was worth more than he was offered.

Before this season, Butler was considered one of the best defenders in the NBA. But many wondered what else would become of the tough-minded defender from Marquette. He had shown no consistency on the offensive end besides the 2012 NBA Summer League when he averaged 20.8 points. But in the summer league, any and everyone can have a great summer playing in the summer league. The question remained could that type of production ever transfer to the NBA. After last season, it looked like it may not ever happen. Butler seemed like he was trying too hard to show everyone he could play on the offensive end. And because of that, he shot one of the worst percentages he has shot in his career. So, going into this season, Butler went to work. As many have come to know, he cut off his cable and internet this summer in order to focus more on growing his game. Anytime he would get bored, he would go work on his game as a means of entertainment. Well, if you see what he has become now, then the work was definitely worth it.

When Butler entered this season, it seemed like there was a different feel about him. He seemed to carry himself with a little more confidence on the court as he played. He felt he belonged. And he was going to show everyone that he did belong. Butler came out of the blocks firing and with a more efficient game. One noticeable change is the post game that Jimmy added. Before this season, no one even knew he had a post game. But this year, he is taking smaller guards to task and using his 6’7”, 220 pound frame. More often times than not, he uses his strength and size to get past smaller defenders and finish at the rim with contact. But even when he is not finishing with the contact, he is at least getting to the free-throw line, where he is attempting a career-high 7.9 attempts a game while averaging a career-high 21 points per game this season.

But along with the post game, Butler has worked on his shot even more. Before this season, Jimmy was a shooter that many would leave wide-open. And as a result, the Bulls offense was playing four-on-five (and sometimes 3-on-5 when it comes to he and Noah on the court). This season he has rebounded from the poor percentage last season to shoot a career-high 46.7% from the field. And he is doing all this while being more efficient on the offensive end as well. In the past, Jimmy used to shoot the basketball and not think of where he was and where he wanted to go. Well, this season, he has smartly learned how to get where he wants to go with the basketball and take the shot that he wants to take. That can do wonders for your confidence when your body can translate everything you are trying to do physically to what you can do on the court.

The biggest change that can be noticed within everything is the confidence the Bulls seem to have in Butler’s playmaking ability. In previous years, any offense you received from Butler was a bonus. You could never count on his shots to fall or for him to do anything consistently on the offensive end. But through Jimmy’s hard work, he developed on the offensive end enough that the Bulls trust him to not only make shots but to make plays for his team. That confidence is even more evident in what the Bulls do down the stretch. With Jimmy, the Bulls are going to him in the post at crunch times this season in the post even with Derrick Rose on the court. That just speaks to the trust and belief that Chicago has that he will make the right play. And more often than not, he does make the right decision to benefit the team and win games.

When faced with a choice, Butler bet on himself. He felt he was worth more than the contract he was offered by the Bulls before the season. And if you take a look at his production so far, he is definitely performing like an All-Star and one of the best two-way guards in the NBA. From the looks of it, Butler may have made the right bet. Fitting that he did since he has been betting on himself and what he has been able to do all his life. From his mom kicking him out at 13 to him being the only one believing he was going to be a basketball player, Butler has been strong and believing in himself for a long time. And next summer it could all come to fruition for him as he cashes in on his big deal.

For more sports talk, feel free to follow me on Twitter @General_MP or check me out on Facebook at Mike Patton-The General .

One Comment

  1. Jason

    January 11, 2015 at 6:59 pm

    When you have talent and continue to bust your butt everyday you get a person like Jimmy he should be a great player for a very long time.

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