NBA Rewin: If you had to ask me who was the 2017 MVP besides the top 5 candidates (Westbrook, Harden, Leonard, James, Durant), I’d choose Jimmy Butler.
Twenty-eight-year-old Jimmy Butler, with two All-Star appearances, three All-Defensive second-team honors, and a Most Improved Player award under his belt, didn’t exactly have much to prove.
He was a two-way star in his physical peak on a mediocre 42-40 Chicago Bulls team that was regularly a lottery team or a first-round exit, with no real direction. He’d later be traded to Minnesota, but for now, he wants to put on a show for the Windy City.
Jimmy Butler’s stats in 2017:
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– 23.9 PPG 6.2 RPG 5.5 APG 1.9 SPG 0.4 BPG
– 45.5 FG% 36.7 3P% 86.5 FT%
– 13.8 WS .236 WS/48 +6.9 BPM
– 58.6 TS% +10.9 Net Rating
– 3.68 O-PIPM
– 1.83 D-PIPM
– 14.4 Wins Added
– 4.55 RAPM
– 76 games played
(Per NBA Advanced Stats, Basketball-Reference and B-Ball Index)
These statistics paint a picture of an MVP candidate, and maybe even a winner. To me, it’s crazy how most forget how good Jimmy was. In comparison, Kawhi Leonard has less rebounds per game, assists per game, steals per game, less Win Shares, a lower Net Rating, a combination of offensive and defensive rating (by 9.3!), a lower PIPM (Player Impact Plus-Minus) a lower RAPM (Regularized Adjusted Plus-Minus) and less Wins Added, a stat created by John Hollinger to show the amount of wins a player adds to a team over a replacement player.
To sum it up, the stats show how Leonard was only a better scorer than Jimmy Butler; Jimmy’s defense and playmaking puts him over the top.
Of course, stats aren’t everything, and the reason why he wasn’t even considered in voting was for the simple reason that his team went 41-41 (one look at the team roster tells you everything you need to know). But even then, he might’ve been one of the 5-7 most valuable players in the league.
Chicago’s offensive rating without Butler on the floor is 103.1. That’s worse than the 2019 Knicks, the 2018 Suns, the 2017 76ers, and even the 2016 Nets – the third-best player on that Bulls team was Robin Lopez, after all.
The fact that Jimmy Butler carried a team whose win total would most likely be in the low 20’s without him to the postseason, putting up numbers players could dream of, and not one single NBA analyst even thinking of him while making their MVP is absolute blasphemy.
At his peak, Jimmy is a player who can easily give you 27 a night on great shooting and playmaking, involving every single player on the team on offense. On defense, he’s another beast. His tenacity on that end is matched by few, and he might’ve just been the best perimeter defender in the league in 2017.
Many argue that if I “really think Jimmy is better than players like Curry, then I don’t know basketball”. And they’re completely right; I don’t believe that. But I do believe he has a case to be a top 5 Most Valuable Player candidate, considering how much he meant to that Bulls team.
Michael Whitlow put it best when he said:
Here’s a simple statement that can be made clear about the status of both Jimmy Butler and the Chicago Bulls: if Jimmy Butler was elsewhere, the Bulls are a lottery team.
Jimmy Butler carried a less-than-mediocre bunch to the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference. The only two players that had a higher amount of win shares than Butler’s 13.8 this season: James Harden and Rudy Gobert. One player is probably going to win the NBA MVP or finish second and the other could be the All-NBA First Team center this season.