Jimmy Butler wouldn’t entertain the question with any sincerity, shunning the thought of crowning himself the best at his position.
“You're not going to draw me into that nonsense,” Butler said half-jokingly. “I just want to be the best two-guard I can be for this team. That's all I'm worried about.”
With his play of late, averaging 31.3 points over the last four games on 54 percent shooting (42-78 FG), he’s now firmly in the conversation of being the league’s best shooting guard.
Golden State’s Klay Thompson and Houston’s James Harden are certainly in the discussion as well, with Miami’s Dwyane Wade as elder statesman at the spot.
Harden was MVP runner-up last year but he’s reverted back to his old habits of refusing to play defense.
With there’s no clear answer, so it’s all about preference. And unlike a couple weeks back when Butler voiced his opinion about the state of the team, comments that were necessary, it should be said, he’s letting his game speak for itself.
“Jimmy’s been unreal right now,” said Derrick Rose after Butler’s 32-point, 10-assist performance against the Milwaukee Bucks Tuesday night.
Rose was asked if Butler should be considered elite and he agreed wholeheartedly. Butler’s coach, Fred Hoiberg, endorsed that train of thought as well.
“Absolutely I think Jimmy has reached elite status in this league. You can see every game he’s getting more comfortable as far as overall,” Rose said in Tuesday’s morning shootaround. “He’s such a complete player. It’s a testament to what he does in the offseason. He just continues to add new elements to his game. He was in here at 8 a.m. this morning getting shots up. And he’s never satisfied. And I think that’s the true sign of a superstar, when you continue to work when you have success.”
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Next to Harden and Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan, he’s third at his position in scoring average at 22.1 points per game and clearly the best defender of the top shooting guards in the league.
“I'm just playing basketball, to tell you the truth,” Butler said. “My teammates are always finding me in great positions to score the ball. And I play with such great passers, such great scorers that my job is really easy.
“You've got to guard the guys around me, so I get a free lane to the basket. I get a steal in the open floor or I get a wide-open jump shot. A lot of it goes to them. Yeah, I put in the work to make sure I'm confident to take the shots I know I can make, but when you've got to guard the other four guys on the floor and the ball's in my hands, I have an easy job.”