If the Bulls look back now, they're lost.
But it's hard not to take note of once rebuild-centerpiece Jimmy Butler's flourishing in Miami. Though Butler is shooting his lowest percentage from the field (42.4%) and 3-point range (27.6%) since his pre-All Star days, he's assimilated perfectly into the 'Heat Culture,' spurring his new team to a 25-9 start to the season with leadership that doesn't always register on the box score.
After a slugfest of an 84-76 home win over Toronto on Thursday, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra was asked about Butler's recent shooting struggles — he was 2-for-10 on the night and is shooting 34.6% in his last four games. (The Heat are 3-1 in those four and, inexplicably, 7-1 this season when Butler shoots under 30% from the field.)
"No, I don’t [have concerns about Butler's shooting], and, look, I know that’s what everybody will look to quite naturally," Spoelstra said. "There’s going to be ebbs and flows with the season, and that’s certainly not going to be something that we gameplan, hey try to miss a couple shots so we can win."
Spoelstra then went on to gush about Butler's impact, calling him, essentially, the epitome of what a max player in the NBA should be. Even when the shots aren't falling.
"I think that’s what young players should learn coming into the league of what a max player actually means. It’s not about stats, it’s not about that final number on the box score. It’s not about whatever 2K numbers you can get. It’s not," Spoelstra said. "It’s about how your team functions and are you winning because of a player. And there is no debate about this: He’s having an incredible impact on our winning, on our bottom line, and that’s why we chased him so hard as a max player.
"That should be the definition from here on out. But it’s not, it gets clouded, and too often it becomes about stats or people that can pile up a bunch of stats even at a young age, but they’re empty stats and they don’t impact winning."
"It's not about stats. ... It's not about whatever 2K numbers you can get."— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) January 3, 2020
Erik Spoelstra explains his definition of a max player, and why Jimmy Butler is one of them 📋 pic.twitter.com/Y006UjsVZk
The Bulls will see Butler and the Heat twice more this season; once in Miami on March 14, then in Chicago on March 18.
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