Charlotte Hornets vs. Chicago Bulls: 3 Takeaways from Jimmy Butler’s Career Night

Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago Bulls started off 2017 with a win thanks to Jimmy Butler’s career-high 52 points.

What a game.

Jimmy Butler dropped 52 points against the Charlotte Hornets on Tuesday night, feasting on everybody and carrying the Bulls to their first win of the new year.

Butler did more than just score effortlessly, though. He added 12 rebounds, six assists, three steals and a block to his stat totals as well. Simply put, he was amazing everywhere.

Perhaps the most impressive part of tonight’s performance for Butler was his fantastic efficiency. He shot 15-24 from the field (62.5 percent) and a jaw-dropping 21-22 from the free-throw line.

But alas, this article is dedicated to more than just Butler’s superstar performance. The younger players for the Bulls received a lot of playing time tonight, the Rondo saga continued, and despite the excellent offensive outburst tonight (118 points total for Chicago), the offense looked dry several times.

Let’s take a look at the biggest takeaways for the Bulls after their win.

Jan 2, 2017; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bulls forward Jimmy Butler (21) and Charlotte Hornets forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (14) compete for a rebound during the first half at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Jan 2, 2017; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bulls forward Jimmy Butler (21) and Charlotte Hornets forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (14) compete for a rebound during the first half at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Jimmy Butler is a beast

I know, I know.

I said I was going to talk about the other takeaways from the game.

But, I’m not before relishing at Jimmy Butler’s greatest game as a Bull ever!

As I mentioned previously, Butler finished the game with 52 points, 12 rebounds, six assists, three steals and a block. He played great on both ends of the floor, and he put the entire team on his back in the fourth quarter and led the way to victory. As he shot his 20th free-throw to score point number 50, the crowd was roaring chants of “M-V-P! M-V-P!”

The best part about Butler’s extravagant performance is that it isn’t any kind of fluke. Butler has been great the entire season for Chicago, and tonight proved once again that he will shine in the game’s biggest moments (if you need further evidence, see his game-winner just last week against the Nets).

With Dwyane Wade sitting out thanks to a swollen left knee and Rajon Rondo buried on the bench, the Bulls needed someone to come through and lead them to victory.

Butler stepped up, and he showed the world once again that he is a flat-out beast.

Jan 2, 2017; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bulls guard Michael Carter-Williams (7) shoots over Charlotte Hornets center Roy Hibbert (55) during the second half at the United Center. Chicago won 118-111. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Younger players getting more time and looking strong

For the Bulls to squeeze out with a win, they had to rely on more than just Jimmy Butler (even though Butler pretty much did everything).

Chicago’s youth got their chances to play tonight, and players such as Jerian Grant, Michael Carter-Williams, Denzel Valentine and Cristiano Felicio had strong performances.

Although there were momentary lapses of poor ball movement and execution of plays, the young guys managed to play with a high intensity and effort level that helped the Bulls win on several 50-50 plays such as loose balls and long rebounds.

Carter-Williams poured in 10 points, nine rebounds and three assists, but he had a few great moments not listed in the box score (for example, he had a couple of diving saves on the ball in crunch time).

Continuing with guards, Grant finished with nine points, six assists, three rebounds and four steals. His intensity allowed him to successfully drive to the rim on multiple occasions where he either finished strong or kicked the ball out to a teammate.

Even Denzel Valentine had a hot shooting night as well, hitting three straight three-pointers before twisting his ankle and exiting the game.

Overall, the young players for the Bulls got their chance tonight and they did a great job collectively.

Jan 2, 2017; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bulls forward Doug McDermott (11) passes the ball to center Robin Lopez (8) with Charlotte Hornets center Roy Hibbert (55) defending during the first quarter at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Doug McDermott is playing aggressive (and has post moves?)

As a result of Dwyane Wade sitting out, Doug McDermott got to start for the first time this season and he made the most of it.

Shortly into the first quarter, McDermott had three plays set up for him after a lot of off-ball movement, and every time he made sure to be aggressive and either take the shot or drive and kick the ball out.

In previous games, an issue for McDermott has been that he will play solely as a spot-up shooter and sometimes won’t move around and get himself open. And when his defense is as bad as it is, he needs to make sure he is making his time on the floor worth it by having a strong presence on offense.

Tuesday night, McDermott made sure that he wasn’t just standing in the corner, and by consistently moving in the 30 minutes he played, he helped the offense stay fluid (or at least, he tried; with the Bulls that’s pretty tough to avoid right now). He didn’t flounder simply because he couldn’t hit from deep (he went 0-3 from beyond the arc), but rather he showed the different ways he can be utilized in the offense, specifically with his post game.

In the second half, while matched up against Jeremy Lamb, McDermott scored through the post three times in a row, with a spinning layup, a leaning and-one and a beautiful post fadeaway.

The Bulls color commentator Stacy King summed it up best: “Chicago needs to add that to the playbook!”

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