Jimmy Butler executed his NBA come-up in silent assassin fashion. The Chicago Bulls' show-stopper is not one of the loud, boisterous, self-celebratory characters the NBA loves so much.
But his explosive, efficient and smooth-as-butter game is loud as heck when he steps on the court.
On Sunday, Butler served up a deadly 40-point, seven-rebound, six-assist performance in a 118-110 win over the Lakers at Staples Center.
Chicago improved to 3-1 with two games left to play on this circus road trip and they are 9-5 overall and fourth in the Eastern Conference.
“He was special tonight, said NBA TV analyst Rick Fox of Butler, who was killing the Lakers with an array of drives, short scoops and jumpers.
Not that we have't seen Butler do the thizzle before. He dropped 40 in one half against Toronto.
“He’s going to another level,” Fox continued. “The leadership is there... He wrestled control of the team last year as far as being someone who has a voice... and is cementing himself as someone who is ready to lead this team to the next level.”
Born in Houston, Butler grew up in Tomball, Texas, and played college basketball for Tyler Junior College before attending Marquette University.
He was unceremoniously snagged with the 30th overall pick in the 2011 NBA draft by Chicago as an insurance policy in the backcourt. The Bulls never expected him to be able to replace the city’s golden child Derrick Rose. He wasn’t highly touted and I’m sure not many people knew that he would eventually make Chicago fans forget Rose ever existed.
They did know that he was a remarkable example of the American Dream.
Abandoned by his dad as an infant and kicked out at 13 by his mom, who told him, "I don't like the look of you. You gotta go," Butler eventually was taken in by his friend’s family and the rest is history.
As a rookie in the lockout-shortened NBA 2011-12 season, Butler appeared in 42 games off the bench as he averaged 2.6 points and 1.3 rebounds per game in 2011–12
Fast forward to 2016 and Butler is a two-time NBA All-Star and a three-time NBA All-Defensive Team baller. In 2015, he was named the NBA Most Improved Player, averaging 20.9 points per game.
And he’s still improving, now averaging a team-high 25.1.
Mr. Silky Smooth-In-The-Groove continues his rise as the go-to guy in Chi-town, despite the additions of Dwyane Wade (18.1 ppg) and Rajon Rondo (seven assists per game) in the offseason.
(Photo Credit: Getty Images)
“Wade and Rondo both know that Jimmy Butler is Chicago's future and they are going to play through him,” said NBA TV analyst Brent Barry. “That’s allowed Butler’s game (to be able to grow) and what it's done is open up another portion of his game. He’s getting a ton of baskets in transition instead of just isolation, because Wade and Rondo are willing to pitch ahead, fill lanes and bring some offense to him”
That formula is bringing some wins to a revamped and reloaded Bulls team.