A Breakdown of Jimmy Butler’s Return

Well, Jimmy Butler returned on Saturday night in a way that not many people could have expected. 30 points, 7 rebounds, 8 assists, 0 turnovers. One of the most impressive parts about his offensive display was the ability to get to the free throw line, going 14/16 from the stripe, which I won’t highlight here since there’s no need for a foul line montage.

Anyway, here are some of the things that stood out from his return against the Sacramento Kings…

– A Bam plan, A Butler attacker

Luke Walton discussed this unique season before the game, since Miami has been without Jimmy Butler for a few weeks, meaning the film they looked over will change majorly. And that defensive plan continued early on, since the focus seemed to be on Bam so much as the roller, so Jimmy Butler had easy opportunities at the rim as seen above. After missing that huge amount of time, getting easy buckets early on was important for his overall scoring success leading to a 30 point night. But more importantly, when Sacramento altered their defense a bit, others had increased opportunities which is basically the entire Jimmy Butler experience.

– Butler reads, Butler knocks it down

The Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo pick and roll was a good thing to see after the long absence, especially since things will look differently as Bam continues to expand his range. But as seen above, Bam allowing Jimmy to get to his favorite spots around the rim for floaters and push-shots are the most important things for a flowing offense. The discussion has been about Bam’s aggression, but Jimmy confidently getting shots on goal when given space is so great to see. The reason I bring these plays up is because this PnR has so much potential. For one, Bam Adebayo is one of the best screen setters and roll threats in the NBA, but allowing Butler to have an open middle floor to throw a lob, kick to the corner, or attempt an open shot in the paint, will lead to many good things for Miami.

– Playing the game at a needed speed

Jimmy’s ability to play the game at his own speed was on display against the Kings, and he doesn’t just have one speed. When he notices a necessity to pick up the pace, he does that by charging down the floor in transition when an opportunity presents itself. But he’s also able to slow the game down and calm the young guys, which is exactly what Miami has been missing. More importantly though, his methodical movements when attacking the basket one-on-one showcase that game speed ability. As seen here, he attacks the center off the dribble as Buddy Hield slides over to switch. As Buddy is sliding over, Jimmy gives him a slight ball-fake to give him the sliver of space needed to lay it in. These small things in his game are still so impressive.

– Jimmy penetration and Precious roaming leads to easy scores

The Butler and Achiuwa minutes were some of the most surprising in my opinion, since they were more effective than originally expected. Of course Precious continues to be able to fit in with just about anybody, but seeing the way his game compliments Jimmy was interesting. As discussed before, Jimmy’s ability to get to the basket in unique ways is clear, but it’s also when he looks to play-make the most, usually ending in cross court kick-outs. But with Precious’ ability to roam the baseline and have nonstop activity around the rim, it leads to easy scores for each of them. On the first play, Hassan Whiteside stepped up leading to an open, rolling Precious Achiuwa for a nice score in traffic. The second clip shows their ability to play off each other as discussed previously. Jimmy draws two perimeter defenders when attacking, and also gets Whiteside in the air, leading to a dump-off pass to Precious for a dunk. Yet another reason the Precious role change is coming.

– The vocal leader is back

Aside from Jimmy Butler’s on-court play for a moment, his leadership on the floor has been missed. With under a minute to play, Coach Spo went with an interesting closing lineup with Max Strus. And when Strus tried to make an extra pass to the corner after a Butler kick-out, Jimmy looked to let him know. The thing about this team that is constantly discussed is that they all hold each other accountable and yell at each other, but nobody takes it personal. It’s just the competitive spirit of the team since everybody just wants to win, and not only does the organization hold them to a certain standard, their leader and star Jimmy Butler does as well. Miami getting Jimmy back just means everything can run smoother just through his presence, and that was seen against Sacramento.

– The reason for the superstar label

Well, this play had to be noted just because of the importance and story-line behind it regarding Jimmy Butler. For starters, Erik Spoelstra mentioned Jimmy was going to make sure to guard him on that possession since he wasn’t going to let them lose, and that further proves the reason for the superstar status regarding Butler. As seen on the play, he has a defensive ability to be ultra-aggressive, without committing a foul itself, which is not an easy thing to balance. Another reason he was so confident in going for the double team is because he knows his running mate, Bam Adebayo, had him covered if a cross-court pass was made. And as seen, Bam came up big to get Miami a much needed win after the recent losing streak. Getting these late game defensive reps only makes you more confident in this team moving forward.

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