Jimmy Butler and Michael Carter-Williams: Future Starting Guards?
From the looks of it, Jimmy Butler and Michael Carter-Williams may be the future starting backcourt duo of the Chicago Bulls. If Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo get hurt or choose to opt out of a second year with the Bulls, Fred Hoiberg already has a winning guard combo.
The Chicago Bulls’ trade with the Milwaukee Bucks for Michael Carter-Williams may be the unimaginable godsend and quite a steal.
Carter-WIliiams is the former 2013 Rookie of the Year from the Philadelphia 76ers who got injured with a hip fracture in his run with the Milwaukee Bucks. MCW got supplanted at the point guard spot by Bucks by February of last year when Milwaukee head coach Jason Kidd rolled the dice on a big point guard in Giannis Antetokounmpo to build the team as a tall, long slasher team that can also shoot the ball from long range.
As the Bucks point guard two years ago, Carter-Williams was still able to win a playoff game against the Bulls in 2015 by outplaying an explosive Derrick Rose at times.
Now, imagine him and Jimmy Butler taking over the starting backcourt positions in the future with Denzel Valentine sliding into the second point guard spot. Jerian Grant could play some spot minutes or full minutes as an equally potent defensive scoring guard depending on matchup requirements of Fred Hoiberg on both offense and defense.
Isaiah Canaan will still work out and be inserted in the rotation if the Bulls need some long range bombs from the back court to put games away or when everybody is struggling to shoot.
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In the Bulls’ win over the Celtics in their first game, Carter-Williams played 17 minutes and scoredfive crucial points in a Bulls run that held the Celtics at bay in the fourth quarter. He also grabbed six rebounds and dished out three assists.
Jimmy Butler playing alongside Michael Carter-Williams may benefit him more as he transitions to an outside-inside offense. Carter-Williams is more of a slasher and a floater-tossing, scoring guard than a shooter. Butler may prolong his career playing alongside a capable playmaker while going down the Michael Jordan route in developing a strong mid-range game and a consistent 3-point shot.
Butler has been loading up on long range jumpers in the early going, but he can still go to the rim and either score off contact or get free throws. Both are strong defenders who will make ball handling and passing more difficult for opposing teams. Carter-Williams in particular, impacts the game immediately on defense with whoever he is paired with in the back court, which is exactly what John Paxson was looking for all season long from the Bulls back court last year.
As the season wears on, if either Dwyane Wade or Rajon Rondo are injured/resting, Fred Hoiberg can count on both Butler and Carter-Williams to take over the starting back court. The Bulls are actually better than what the media tout them for: a poor shooting team based on last year’s stats of Rondo, Wade and Butler combined and compared with other scoring guards in the league.
But, the basketballl fans’ eye test actually is the better gauge for knowing that the Bulls are a winning team. Basketball analytics isn’t a foolproof science.
It’s the win or loss at the end of each day, plus all the hustle plays you see that make the player and speak the most for the team.
Watch Jimmy Butler and Michael Carter-Williams play like studs for the rest of the month and hope the rest of the team catches up, too.
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