When the Bulls open the 2013-14 NBA season in just a couple months the backcourt will have a far different look than last year when Kirk Hinrich and Richard Hamilton got the nod on Opening Night.

First there will be the long awaited and much anticipated return of Derrick Rose giving Chicago an immeasurable boost and allowing Hinrich to lead the second unit. While there was never a doubt Rose would reclaim the job at point guard there was a little more uncertainty about who would take over at shooting guard under a scenario in which Hamilton and Marco Belinelli were no longer with the team.

There is no question about it today though as Jimmy Butler embraced a greater role last year and this offseason Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau has said on more than one occasion that he will begin the 2013-14 season as the starter alongside Rose.

But Butler’s approach hasn’t changed a bit. He is determined to attack his offseason workouts with the same intensity he did a year ago when he put on an impressive display at NBA Summer League. Always confident he could contribute Butler’s role increased throughout the regular season and when injuries led to his first start as a pro on Jan. 19 he made the most of that opportunity and hasn’t looked back. Still he’s practically in denial about being among the starting five.

“I feel like I’m not a starter yet” said Butler following a workout at the Berto Center last week. “The season isn’t here yet and I still need to work my tail off for the rest of the offseason go into training camp play hard and do what I’m supposed to do. Coach Thibs and the management will do whatever they think it takes to help us win. Whether that means me as a starter or coming off the bench whatever it may be I’m comfortable with it. I just want to win games.”

Along with his play down the stretch and in the postseason it is that kind of mentality that has made Butler a fan favorite. It has also allowed him some new opportunities within the game.

In July he went on an NBA trip to China where he made appearances in Beijing and Shanghai with Yao Ming among others. Aside from trips to Canada to face the Raptors it was Butler’s first time out of the country.

“Obviously it was really really different but fun” said Butler. “I got to see firsthand that no matter the culture of the people their race or color whether they are tall or short they all have love for the round ball. People over there all know the NBA’s players from the starters to the sixth man. It is pretty remarkable to have fans like that all over the world.”

“It shows you that it is a privilege to have the job that we have” added Butler. “But since I do have it I want to give back and show that I’m more than just a basketball player.”

Not long after his return to the United States Butler was in Los Angeles to attend the ESPYs where he enjoyed being among so many athletes and celebrities whom he admires and respects. What he didn’t expect is to be recognized by so many as one of their own moments like when Hollywood A-lister Jamie Foxx casually walked up for a quick conversation: “What’s up Jimmy?”

“I was like wow Jamie Foxx knows my name” said Butler. “It was pretty shocking for someone who I know from TV and movies to come up and call me by my name. That was an incredible feeling because whether it was him or someone else it means they respect me for what I do. They know me even though I’m a small town kid from Tomball [Texas]. That’s pretty cool.”

It was also another sign that Butler’s efforts are paying off. Aside from China and quick trips here and there Butler has spent most of the summer in Chicago or home with his family in Tomball. He has a passion for music attending a variety of concerts ranging from Lollapalooza this past weekend to Pitchfork Music Festival just a couple blocks from the United Center Jason Aldean at Wrigley Field and the B96 Summer Bash where he got a chance to meet Miley Cyrus.