By DeArbea Walker
The Chicago Bulls have a fresh new face representing their franchise. A more consistent offensive and defensive weapon in Jimmy Butler has replaced Derrick Rose, the Bulls superstar point guard. Butler, the Chicago Bulls starting shooting guard, has left his mark on this team and in the hearts of Bulls fans.
Butler, a Houston Texas native, has not always had it easy, but has managed to become the leader of one of the most prominent franchises in the NBA and now NBA Eastern Conference All-Star. Recently, the Bulls faced problems with their defense, even though it has been their way of staying in ball games since Tom Thibodeau became head coach. The Bulls defense has gotten significantly worse from seasons past, something that showed in their loss to the Houston Rockets last Wednesday.
The Bulls entered Wednesday night ranked 12th in the NBA on defense allowing opponents to shoot and make over 44 percent per game, despite being ranked in the top ten over the past four season. The team is currently allowing opponents to score over 99 points per game.(ESPN).
Following the Bulls loss Wednesday, Butler was quick to point out he is the heartbeat of the team and places all the blame on himself. “I think it starts with me, to tell you the truth, I’m supposed to be this prime-time defender and I don’t think I’ve been holding up to my end of the bargain lately,” Butler told ESPN’s Chris Broussard.
Over the past few seasons Butler has left his mark on this franchise working his way up to the starting shooting guard position. Now an Eastern Conference All- Star is ready to represent the organization Saturday and Sunday in the NBA skills challenge and All-Star game itself.
Butler was the 30th pick in the 2011 NBA draft by the Chicago Bulls. In his first season he averaged around three points and one rebound per game and has only improved since. Butler’s numbers over his first three seasons fluctuated but have not been able to compare to what he has been able to do this season. Butler has gone from averaging eight minutes a game in his rookie season to around 40 minutes this season, putting up 20.6 points, 3.2 assists, and 6 rebounds per game. (ESPN)
The recent defensive slump is now an issue on the young guards agenda, as teams as the Cleveland Cavaliers have closed in on the Bulls in the NBA Central Division. It has cost the team crucial losses such as to the Washington Wizards twice, the Cavaliers, the Los Angeles Lakers, and now the Houston Rockets. In all of the losses, the team gave up over 100 points, right around their season average of 99.9 points given up per game. (ESPN)
“I’m not going to lie, I thought it was going to be easier than it is. But to go on one end and produce and then go on the other end and have to stop the best player on the opposing team is not always and easy task,” Butler told Broussard.
One thing we know for sure is that as good as Butler is, he needs help. He can’t be the only one giving 100% on both ends every night if the Bulls want to make a deep playoff run.