The 2013-2014 NBA season is a crucial one for our Chicago Bulls. With one of the best free agent classes rivaling the one of 2010 off-season, it’s a make or break year with the core group of guys right now. Obviously the most important player returning is Derrick Rose who has said multiple times this summer he is 100% and ready to go, but I argue a different case for who the most important player next year will be.
I have no doubt that Derrick will return to his old self. He is a man of his word and had a year and a half to make himself better as a player. The deciding factor in whether the Bulls can do some damage in the East lies in hands of the Bulls one ray of hope last season, Shooting Guard/Small Forward Jimmy Butler. A quiet, humble and hardworking kid out of Tomball, Texas showed that he could be that 2/3 guard that the Bulls have been looking for to play alongside Rose since he arrived. Also known as Jimmy “Buckets” that’s exactly what he did last year, and prevented plenty of them as well. Ever since Thibodeau gave Butler the opportunity to start in a handful of games, he shined and caught plenty of praise from the national media for his lock down play on LeBron when the Bulls upset the Heat to snap there 27 game win streak. His great play extended into the playoffs, hitting over 40% from downtown and playing air tight defense on the opposing teams best scorer. And just for good measure he played 148 straight minutes of tough, gritty and
high-flying basketball, not coming off the court once in the playoffs. With his third year coming up being the biggest one of his young career, he will have to improve his shot even more as well as learn to create his own shot. But how many people know where the 30th pick in the 2011 draft came from?
Born on September 14th, 1989, Butler’s road to the NBA is an unusual and tough one. Living in Tomball, Texas (outside of Houston) Butler’s father abandoned him and his family at birth and at 13 years old, his mother kicked him out of the house. He bounced around households across the neighborhood until he met Jordan Leslie, a basketball and football player at Tomball High School. Immediately they became friends and even though they had 6 kids between them, the Leslie’s decided to take Jimmy in to their family. He would average 19 points and 8 rebounds his senior year and was voted his team’s most valuable player.
Butler was not heavily recruited out of High School by any means so he spent his Freshman year at Tyler Junior College then transferred to Marquette where he wasn’t a star, but was a regular starter on the team from his Junior year on. The Bulls selected Butler because of his work ethic and defensive of prowess, but now is formulating into a possible All-Star for years to come.
Many players will take vacations across the world or relax at their beach houses for the summer and come back in October for training camp. Butler? He’ll be in a gym summer (likely with Rose, who he claims is his mentor) working on his game to become a better all-around player and ultimately find a way to beat the Heat. But for Jimmy, his greatest victory was finding a family that loved him for who he is.