Could Jimmy Butler be the Bulls’ point guard of the future?
The Chicago Bulls are a 41-40 basketball team that’s already been eliminated from the playoffs. It’s been a nightmare campaign for a team that’s struggled all season, through injuries and the implementation of an entirely different playing style by a brand new coaching staff.
Most expected them to compete for a spot in the Eastern Conference finals, but the Bulls are instead headed for the lottery.
Their best player, Jimmy Butler, wants to see things through until the bitter end, even if it means he has to play point guard (via Chicago Tribune):
For the second time down the stretch, Butler reiterated “it's not that hard” to play point guard. The better question may be: Can Butler, who prefers a slower pace and isolation plays, play point guard at a pace for Hoiberg's ideal offense? “I think so as he gets more comfortable in it,” Hoiberg said. “He told me in the offseason that he was a point guard. I didn't really believe him. But he has shown me a lot this year and showed his teammates a lot. He not only get shots and looks for himself but also for his teammates by sharing the ball.
Heading into a summer that’s sure to be filled with franchise-wide uncertainty, what does this mean? Does it have any impact whatsoever on Derrick Rose’s future with his hometown organization? Or should Butler be traded for a pile of helpful assets to help build a more optimistic future than the one Chicago’s currently looking at?
Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg wants to play up-tempo, but this season’s team ranked only 13th in pace. To boot, Chicago’s offense is one of the five worst attacks in the league, and six teams average more three-point attempts per game.
Over their first 81 games, the Bulls played a smidge faster with Butler on the bench, and they moved the ball a tiny bit more (meaning the percentage of their baskets that were assisted rose about 4.0 percent with Butler on the bench). That’s not to say he can’t be the lead ball-handler on an effective offense — he’s plenty efficient, gets to the free-throw line and knows how to distribute — but piling more responsibilities on Butler’s plate may wear him down sooner than later, especially on the defensive end.
Jimmy Butler has 5 double-digit assist games this season. He had 1 in his first 4 seasons.
— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) April 12, 2016
The Bulls already have a bunch of questions they need to answer over the next few months, and whether Butler can play point guard doesn’t need to be one of them.