In his senior year of high school in Tomball, Texas, Jimmy Butler was ranked 37th.
Not in the country. Not at his position. The 37th best basketball player in Texas.
Today, he’s the 30th player taken in the NBA draft.
Butler came to Marquette as the first recruited player by new Head Coach Buzz Williams. Williams had developed a relationship with Butler when he was recruiting his Tyler Junior College teammate Joseph Fulce.
As a sophomore at Marquette, Butler was the sixth man, playing behind future NBA players Wes Matthews, Lazar Hayward and Jerel McNeal. Butler’s versatility helped him gain minutes, as he could play on the wing or inside. More importantly, he gained minutes by his tenacity on the defensive end.
Offensively, Butler was a work in process. His jumper wasn’t very good, and he knew it, so he never shot the ball. He would frequently pass up open jumpers, and would rather slash to the rim, with or without the ball.
Butler averaged 5.6 points, 3.9 rebounds per game, while shooting 51% from the field and 77% from the line. Of Butler’s 196 points that season, 194 of them came from inside the paint or at the free throw line.
Entering his junior year, Butler improved his mid-range game, as the second option for the Golden Eagles, following the departure of Matthews, McNeal and Dominic James. Marquette would play small, often featuring a lineup of the 6’6’’ Hayward at the 5 spot, and Butler at the 4 and three smaller guards. Butler could rebound well enough, defend well enough and score when Williams stressed “paint touches.”
Butler became the go-to-guy down the stretch for MU, as he hit two game winners on the road in the Big East. The first came in Storrs, vs. UCONN. With 3.6 seconds left, Butler created his own shot, a fade away in the corner, which clinched a win for the Golden Eagles, who were on the NCAA tournament bubble. Two weeks later, the Butler did it again, making the #1 play on SportsCenter’s top 10, as he lost the ball mid-air, gathered, spun and swished a jumper at Rutgers.
He finished second in the Big East for most improved player, with averages of 14.7 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.0 assists while shooting 53% from the field and 77% from the line.
Going into his senior season, he was the guy. He had to grow up quick, become the captain and the senior leader that the team needed. Growing up quick was never a problem for the 20 year-old senior.
As you might have heard, Jimmy Butler went public with his story of being homeless at age 13. His mother kicked him out of the house, and he floated around his friends’ homes until he found a stable home. The Leslie family brought him in at 17, right as he was finishing high school.
Butler’s senior night, he invited his new family to Milwaukee. Few at MU knew the story of Jimmy Butler, and he didn’t want it to be known. He asked several media outlets not to write the story for people to feel sorry for him, as his story has shaped who he is today.
Butler ended his senior year with averages of 15.7 points, 6.7 rebounds while learning to shoot from three (34.5%) and getting to the line 7 times per game. His 30 point game vs. Cincinnati at home was his career high. He twice shut down Kemba Walker, twice shut down Marshon Brooks, shut down Ben Hansbrough, all while carrying the load offensively for MU.
K.C. Johnson had a tweet after the Bulls drafted Butler – “I don’t know how good of an NBA player he’s going to be.” Everyone around him knows how good he's going to be. No, he won't be a superstar. He probably won't even be Wes Matthews, but would you bet against him, considering what he's been through?
For those that know his story, and his work ethic, he’s ready for the NBA. This is just another challenge that Butler is more than willing to conquer.no comments
Things are quiet because the Bulls really aren't in a position to do much. They want to keep the core together, which is smart. They don't need to make a splash, since they just won 62 games. But, the Bulls can make themselves better on draft night.
8:06 AM 6/23/2011
Did the Bulls kick the tires on Lamar Odom?
A recent conversation between the Warriors and Lakers centered around Lamar Odom and Shannon Brown going to Golden State for Ellis, but those talks went nowhere, sources said. The Bulls would become involved if they were willing to part with Joakim Noah, and Chicago executives have consistently balked at including him in trade talks for the past year -- mostly due to the base-year compensation factor in the five-year, $60 million extension he signed last year. CBSSports.comI don't think the Bulls are foolish enough to part with Noah for Odom. Where would Odom fit on this roster?
But I do like any talk that surrounds Shannon Brown. I talked a lot about him last year, and thought the Bulls should give him a look at the end of FA. He's developed into a really good shooter, plays solid defense and has good ball handling skills. He's a free
6:50 CT 6/22/2011
Bulls Trying to Move Up?
Alex Kennedy: The Chicago Bulls are trying to package their two first-round picks - #28 and #30 - to move up. They're talking to a few teams in the teens. Twitter
Vinsanity in play for Bulls?
The Suns have long been expected to buy out Vince Carter's $18.3 million final season for $4 million. Which could give Carter the chance to answer the question of whether he ever really wanted to try to be a winner. Or just score points. The Bulls will be one of the teams likely interested in Carter if he is bought out — similarly with Richard Hamilton, who is less likely to be bought out because he has two years left on his contract. The Bulls will be over the salary cap, so they cannot offer Carter more than a minimum deal.Currently, there is a mid level exception, which most don't expect to survive the new collective bargaining agreement. So would Carter come to the Bulls for a minimum when he can make much more, though with a lesser team? The advantage the Bulls have is they can offer a starting job. Of course, Dallas likely could, as well, on a minimum deal. The Heat could not. NBA.com
My picks were different - everyone that I thought the Bulls might take was gone, with the exception of Jimmy Butler. Interestingly enough, the Bulls did work out Butler once in Chicago.
I don't have any inside information on the draft, but I do like one thing Gar Forman said about the process. He stressed taking the best player available, and I completely agree. Even though the NBA has a smaller pool of players, I disagree with drafting for need. At this point, we all know the Bulls needs are 2G, 2G, 2G.
Back in 2009, the Bulls selected James Johnson in the first round. Jrue Holiday was rated the better player by everyone, but the Bulls had Derrick Rose, reigning Rookie of the Year. We basically moved down 15 picks, two years later instead of taking Holiday. Even if the Bulls couldn't use Holiday, you could move him for a need.
So that brings us to now, and the Bulls haven't traded up. I wouldn't mind trading up to get anyone that falls. Word is that Kemba Walker is falling in the lottery. If the Bulls can trade up and take him, do it. Forget about the issue that Walker is small and probably a point guard at this level - you take him, play him off the bench, and trade him later for a starting shooting guard.
Gar Forman was on ESPN 1000 today and had nice words for his starting power forward, Carlos Boozer.
"I thought Carlos had a very good year for us," Forman said. "When you look at the numbers during the season, he was 18 points, 10 rebounds, shot over 50 percent from the field.
“I thought he was a big part of the success we had winning 62 games and finishing with the best record in the league.”
Was he?no comments
Let's look at shooting guard first. SG's that will be off the board by pick 28 are - Klay Thompson, Alec Burks and Marshon Brooks. It's not a deep 2G class. So who are the legit options for the Bulls?
SG - Charles Jenkins - SR. Hofstra
Jenkins, a four-year star at Hofstra, absolutely exploded his last two seasons. He averaged 22.6 points per game on 51.7% shooting, 42% from three and 82% from the line as a senior. The 6'3'' 220 lb New York product can score, and has the jumper that the Bulls could use. He does most of his damage by creating his own shot, but that's a product of the Hofstra offense and his competition. He has a quick first step, and creates a lot of space for shots. One thing he might lack is the explosiveness, but that's because he looks under control for the most part. Defensively, he is undersized, but at 220, he could develop the strength to help himself out.
SG/SF - Tyler Honeycutt - SO. UCLA
The first thing you notice about Honeycutt is that he has the body type of Kevin Durant. Unfortunately, that's the only thing you can compare to Durant. Honeycutt is still a little raw, but has so many tools and skills that the Bulls would be foolish to pass on him. The skill that will attract the Bulls is his defense. At 6'8'' with a long wingspan, Honeycutt can get his hand in passing lanes and helps him block shots. He led the Pac-10 in blocks this season, and rebounds really well at his position. Honeycutt has great form on his jumper, and with time and practice, he'll become more consistent. The issues come from his A/T ratio, which is 2.8 to 3.0. Also, his ball handling leaves a lot to be desired. He won't break anyone's ankles. He's more of a slasher/spot-up player than an isolation player. I think Honeycutt can contribute right away, but I think he's has a higher ceiling than Jenkins.
Now let's look at some stretch forwards. In a dream scenario, the Bulls take Honeycutt and then Nikola Vucevic. Vucevic is having a great camp, so he's probably not going to be around. So we'll look at others that the Bulls have been linked to.
PF - Justin Harper - SR. Richmond
It might be too strong to call him a poor man's Derrick Williams, but that's what he played like in college. The senior improved all four years at Richmond, and became a strong NBA prospect when he developed a consistent outside shot. Harper shot 45% from deep, while averaging 18 points per game. Harper is fluid, can handle the ball, and moves around the floor like a guard. He's been compared to Durant, but in a way that he does everything for his college team. Oh, and he's 4% body fat. I think he's being severly underrated in this draft, and if the Bulls can nab him, it would be a great pick. If Chicago loves Taj Gibson, they'll love Justin Harper.
PF - JaJuan Johnson - SR. Purdue
I wasn't a big fan of Johnson until his senior year, when him and Moore carried the Boilermakers to the tournament and to a 3-seed. He added a mid-range jumper, improved his free throw shooting, added bulk and started to take over games. He's similar to Taj in that you don't throw it to him in the post, but he can spread the floor. Defensively, he's a lot like Taj - he can block shots. Unlike Taj, I question Johnson's toughness. If he doesn't get more physical, he will be a liability on the glass. He's not a good enough shooter to sit on the perimeter, either. Still, he would give the Bulls another dimension.
The NBA holds the draft on June 23, 2011. Hopefully it's not filled with lockout talk like the NFL draft was this year.
1. Dancing - It's everywhere. LeBron James dancing on the sideline, dancing after he makes a shot, dancing on stage with Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade on their introduction to Miami. It's nuts. It's not cool, you look like an asshole. And don't use some bullshit that "they can do whatever they want, because they're that good." No they can't. They still look like assholes. And if you like it, Dancing with the Stars - ABC at 8 ET. Even Michelle Obama thinks dancing is part of the goddamn sport! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nI3y9jH8FXY
2. LeBron James - See above. Whine some more, Baby Bron Bron. Find one Miami Heat foul that he didn't bitch about.
3. Officiating - The referees single handedly are altering the series. The game is NOT called the same for every player. The fact that you can say "(Insert Superstar) has earned those calls over the years," is a joke. The game should be called fair for both teams. It clearly hasn't been in the Bulls Heat series. Noah's charge on Haslem, Boozer's finishes inside, Derrick not getting calls at the rim (BUT HE'S THE MVP, ISN'T HE SUPPOSED TO GET CALLS?) Over and over, the Bulls had to play five on nine - Heat plus the refs and Stern.
4. David Stern - He's Vince McMahon Jr. Honestly, he controls every game. I know sports are a business, and for me even to think that's not true is my fault. I shouldn't be that naive and neither should you. The NBA has put Good vs. Evil in this playoffs. The Bulls are everything that is great about sports. Humble players, leaders on and off the court, as well as a great coach. The Evil are the Heat, the team that came together to win 7 championships. Game 1 got 11.5 million viewers. Games 2, 3 and 4 got similar numbers. The longer you keep the Heat in the series and in the playoffs, the longer people are going to watch and be interested. So keep the game within the Heat's reach and you're in good shape. Game 2's second quarter, and all of game 4 were so incredibly one-sided.
Shaq, I couldn't have said it better myself.
What David Stern doesn't realize is that his ass is going to lose a LOT of fans after this playoffs. The NBA was back, and he took control. Now look at it? A lot of people are going to go back to watching other things, like Dancing with the Stars. Just as fixed, same story lines. I hope they lock out next year just so he can't get his greedy fucking hands on any of his money. What a fool.
5. LeBron James - Who really refers to themselves as the King? "What should I do?" I think you should go fuck yourself, LeBron.
Feel free to add in the comments.
Well, since Carl couldn’t get us a W in Game 3, I’m back. It’s the biggest game of the season so we’re trotting our Ace out there for HTTH. Just kidding. But seriously.
The Bulls are going to win tonight, boys and girls. Usually I let the suspense build before finally revealing my selection at the bottom of the thread. Sometimes I even throw you a bit of a curveball like in Game 2. Not this time. The Bulls win. Joakim plays better, Derrick plays better, we shoot the ball better, and Chris Bosh plays a lot worse.
I’ve got to think the Stern factor will be working for us tonight too. I don’t like to ever blame the officials, and to make it clear I’m not doing that here, but I thought Miami got the majority of the calls in Game 2 and 3. That being said, we still played very poorly, and didn’t deserve to win either game, but I said what I said. Tonight the Bulls are going to get the calls. The Mavs also deserve a big pound and explode from us for the way they came back against Oklahoma City last night. Winning 2 in a row in Oklahoma City means that series is done in 5. There is no way that Stern wants to short series in the Conference Finals, especially when he was a great matchup with the MVP of the league going against the Big 3. We get the calls tonight. That doesn’t mean that we’ll win, but it helps. That being said, we’re not going to win tonight because we’re getting the calls. We’re going to win tonight because we outplay the Miami Heat.
Stat of the Day:
The Bulls haven’t lost 3 games in a row all season
Probable Miami Starters:
G – Mike Bibby, 3.8 PPG
G – D’Wayne Wade, 24.7 PPG
F – Lebron James, 25.2 PPG
F – Chris Bosh, 18.2 PPG
C – Joel Anthony, 3.5 PPG
Probable Chicago Starters:
G – Derrick Rose, 27.6 PPG
G – Keith Bogans, 5.1 PPG
F – Luol Deng, 16.6 PPG
F – Carlos Boozer, 12.6 PPG
C – Joakim Noah, 9.1 PPG
Current Line: Miami (-5), Over/Under 179
The Bulls are going to play a lot better tonight. Joakim is going to go for 10 and 15 while using whatever slurs he pleases. Luol Deng is going to score 20. Derrick Rose is going to find his rhythm with a lot of help from his teammates who are going to knock down shots off of his assists. The defense will be a lot better tonight too. Chris Bosh will come down to earth and Miami will have to work for every bucket.
Bulls 92 Heat 85no comments
Wednesday's contest was the kind of game that Chicago would have won in the first round against Indiana, which lulled me and others into a false sense of security. They showed well in the first quarter which was capped off by Luol Deng's scintillating half court shot. After that, it wasn't a night and day drop off in performance on defense or effort, but merely incremental breakdowns. Chicago still played their typical brand of basketball on defense, while Miami's offense was much the same throughout. There were times when Chicago's defense looked the strongest we've seen this post season. In spite of 9 more trips to the foul line, Miami still only scored 3 more points - its not as though they ever ran away and hid with their offensive production. Whatever steps Wade and James took in offensive production were given back by Bosh's relatively small 10 point effort. Chicago simply didn't hit shots. Low post scoring did not happen in the same kind of regularity or efficiency, the Bulls posted a miserable 61% effort from the foul line, and the 3's didn't fall. Part of it was poor luck, much of it was timely defending by Miami, including a critical double team on Luol in the 4th. Spoelstra deserves a cookie for playing LeBron on Rose. The lane wasn't as open for Derrick, and the outside shooting he deferred to wasn't clicking. Likewise Udonis Haslem went from throw-in scrub to impact bench player, contributing 13 and 5 in an unexpected 23 minute relief appearance while providing the kind of spark Taj Gibson gave the Bulls earlier in the series. Give credit where it is due; Miami played enough defense to earn the victory. Still, I can't help but feel that if Chicago and Miami both play with that kind of effort and focus 7 times, Chicago wins 4.
Now Chicago finds itself on the road with the task of taking back home court advantage. Miami's crowd is notoriously sporadic, so it will be interesting to see what kind of energy and vibe is in the arena tonight. Bulls fans have traveled well throughout this year; will Miami's crowd be "late arriving" per Reggie Miller's assessment throughout the year, or will they clamp down with the so-called "White Out"? Likewise, which Boozer is Chicago getting, and just how healthy is he with this toe injury? He's had moments where his jumper is on, and he put together a pair of solid performances dating back to game 6 in Atlanta, but its clear that he's not the strong presence we signed him to be down low right now. Whether that is due to health, age, or player psychology remains to be seen, but flaws or not, Chicago plays better when he's a double digit scorer, and needs more 18+ point efforts from him going forward. Furthermore, Korver is due to rekindle some of the magic we saw from him in the first round. Eventually his rim outs will start to fall. We just can't afford that eventuality to be 2-3 more games down the road. The defense will be there, and this team's demeanor is such that they'll take Miami's best shots, whether its driving the lane or trying to run the floor with flashy oop plays. Its time to start hitting shots, and take some of the load off of Rose and Deng, who are showing signs of wearing down.
Stat of the Day:Chicago avoided being called for a defensive three second violation Wednesday night, snapping an 8 game streak.
Probable Miami Starters:
G – Mike Bibby, 3.6 PPG
G – D’Wayne Wade, 25.3 PPG
F – Lebron James, 25.4 PPG
F – Chris Bosh, 16.9 PPG
C – Joel Anthony, 3.5 PPG
Probable Chicago Starters:
G – Derrick Rose, 28.2 PPG
G – Keith Bogans, 5.2 PPG
F – Luol Deng, 16.8 PPG
F – Carlos Boozer, 11.6 PPG
C – Joakim Noah, 9.8 PPG
Current Line: Chicago (+4.5), Over/Under at 178.5
Somehow, I expect Miami to try and intimidate Chicago again by running the court early, and again I expect it to fail. They'll get a couple easy buckets, but Chicago is too sound and too rested to get burned physically or mentally. Thibs really seems to have this group plugged into the team concept more than Miami, and I expect Chicago's field goal percentage to have a 4 in front instead of a 3 thanks to ball movement and better luck with the rim. I'll push conspiracy theories aside when discussing why the Western Conference finals crammed two games in between the East's and instead be thankful for the rest for #1 and #9 in particular. Don't have a particularly strong conviction in this one. Gut feeling is a "L" thanks to home court and a greater sense of universal entropy/story writing, brain tells me this is the kind of game Chicago wins. Expect this one to be the closest game yet, and the physicality to take another step.
Bulls 94 Heat 91no comments
Well Game 1 went just about as well as we could have hoped for, right? That game was an absolute joy to watch. After a jittery start the team settled down and played a great game. We landed a couple of nice jabs in the second and third quarters before delivering the knockout blow in the 4th quarter.
Not to toot my own horn too much, but they really executed on my keys to the series. I said that we had to limit the turnovers to avoid fast break buckets for Miami. Well, after a free early turnovers from Derrick he really settled in nicely and took care of the ball. Secondly, I thought we had to win the rebounding battles consistently. Well, as simple glance at the Stat of the Day (yes we have one this time) tells us that we dominated on the offensive glass. I was a little nervous about this one in the first half when we gave up a few second chance buckets, but we sure dominated the glass in the second half. Third, I said we our bench had to show up. I think it’s safe to say they did. Taj Gibson was trending on twitter for a reason. Lastly, I said we had to put the pressure on Miami by winning Game 1. Well, not only did they win but they won by 21 points. Now the Heat have to think about that for two days. How will they respond?
If Lebron and Wade have any kind of heart at all they’re going to come after us with everything they have in Game 2 after getting embarrassed on Sunday night. I mentioned in an earlier post how I thought Luol Deng was our MVP Sunday night. Not only did he play well offensively, but he did a wonderful job defensively on Lebron. It wasn’t just Lebron, though. We did a great job with our team defense. Our bigs were unbelievable. We kept switching on pick and rolls and Noah and Gibson did an amazing job of keeping those guys out of the paint. I even saw Asik do it once, forcing Lebron into a 3-point attempt. Granted, he made the shot, but that’s the shot that we want Lebron taking. We’ll see what, if any, adjustments Miami makes offensively to try and improve in this area.
Stat of the Day:
The Bulls outscored the Heat 31-8 on second-chance points in Game 1
Probable Miami Starters:
G – Mike Bibby, 3.5 PPG
G – D’Wayne Wade, 25.5 PPG
F – Lebron James, 25.1 PPG
F – Chris Bosh, 17.5 PPG
C – Joel Anthony, 3.8 PPG
Probable Chicago Starters:
G – Derrick Rose, 28.8 PPG
G – Keith Bogans, 5.2 PPG
F – Luol Deng, 17.1 PPG
F – Carlos Boozer, 12.0 PPG
C – Joakim Noah, 9.8 PPG
Current Line: Chicago (-2), Over/Under 181
I hate Steve Stone’s guts but one thing he says that I absolutely agree with is “you’re never as good as look when you’re winning, and you’re never as bad as you look when you’re losing.” We need to keep that in mind when looking at Game 1. It was just about the perfect game for us, but don’t go crazy Bulls fans. Miami is going to play better than they did on Sunday night. I can’t imagine we will shut down Lebron and Wade the way that we did in Game One. I still like us to win the series Bulls fans, but it’s not going to be easy. This is going to be a series. Hope I’m wrong about tomorrow night.
Heat 88 Bulls 86no comments
I owe Luol Deng an apology. I was not a fan of Luol prior to this season. In fact, if we’re being honest, I disliked Luol Deng. I called him “soft” on multiple occasions, and I believed it. I thought he was another overpaid player like Ben Gordon and Eddie Robinson. I thought all he wanted to do was hang out in the corner and let someone else do all the work of driving, drawing in the defense, and kicking out to him for a 3-point shot. I always saw potential in his ability to slash to the lane and wanted him to do it more often.
All of that has changed this season. Luol Deng has won me over. It was a slow process at first. When he started fast I was hesitant to give him too much credit. Hell, even at the end of the regular season I think I gave him a B+ grade. I was wrong. Clearly he has deserved an A. He was our player of the game last night and that has been the case several times this season.
He has been so huge for us this season. He has hit several big shots. He hasn’t relied too heavily on the 3-point shot like I thought he had done earlier in his career (only 29% of his shots this season have been 3-point attempts.) He has done a great job with his shot selection. When the 3 is there, he takes it, but he’s not afraid to put his head down and attack the rim either. He has shed the soft label in my eyes too. He sticks his nose in there and grabs about 6 rebounds again, he guards each team’s best scorer on a nightly basis and does a great job of it, he fired up the crowd late in Game 1 against Indiana which perhaps ignited the huge comeback, and he came back from a vicious elbow to the back of the head in Game 3 against Indiana like it was no big deal. He’s not soft.
Also, he never comes out of the game. He average 39 minutes per game this year, leading the team. In years past he seemed injury prone, and I was waiting for it this year, but it hasn’t happened. When we finally got Boozer and Noah back and healthy, I was convinced it would be Luol’s turn to miss some games. But it hasn’t happened. He has stayed healthy all season long, playing hard every night and playing just about the entire game night after night. The statistics have been good (17.4 PPG, 46% FG, 5.80 RPG) but they don’t tell the whole story. His defense has been absolutely huge and the fact that he has shown up every night has been even bigger. He was amazing last night, and we’re going to need more of that if we’re going to win the series. Keep it going, Luol!no comments