Jimmy Butler was not at his best on Monday vs. the Pacers, but it says something about the makeup of the second-year wing that even an off-night produces 10 points on eight shots and three steals. Butler also logged what would appear to be his first minutes this season at power forward against Indiana, joining the long list of Chicago defenders who were roundly destroyed by David West. It's obvious that the Bulls are going to be more likely to play Butler at shooting guard than power forward, but the added versatility to fill in in the front court when injuries start to mount is nothing but another feather in his cap.
There's a lot to like about Butler. His ascent in the wake of Luol Deng's injury was a big part of what made January the best month of the Bulls' season to date. His athleticism is a major boost to what Tom Thibodeau can do on the wing, not to mention the uptick it brings in overall watchability. Butler doesn't need the ball to have a major impact on the game, has been very impressive in guarding some of the league's elite perimeter scorers and is establishing himself as a downright terrifying threat on the glass.
The stats back all of this up. Butler is fourth on the team in PER (15.6). He has the third best on-court plus-minus (plus-two) and the third best net rating (plus 6.1) on the Bulls. His eFG% is tops on the team (51.2 percent), as is his true shooting percentage (58.3 percent, four points better than Nate Robinson, who's second on the team). Monday's game against the Pacers was the first time he finished with less than six rebounds since his playing time increase began on 1-19 against the Grizzlies.
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