Jimmy Butler is good at basketball

 Ben Margot, Associated Press

Ben Margot, Associated Press

As the title says, Jimmy Butler is good at basketball. It’s crazy in 2018 I still have to say this but apparently some people still underrate Jimmy. He’s won the Most Improved Player award - that’s not enough. He’s made 3rd Team All-NBA as a forward - in a league where guys like Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard and Anthony Davis exist - and that’s still not enough. He’s statistically improved every season and, again, that’s still not enough.

So I guess I now must write an article explaining why, well, Jimmy Butler is good at basketball.

When Jimmy left the Bulls via trade and landed in Minnesota, many fans were convinced Jimmy was going to be the third option. And I’ll be honest, I was one of them.

Not because I doubted Jimmy’s abilities but because I expected Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins to come into their own as young NBA stars this season.

Towns averaged 25.1 points per game and 12.3 rebounds per game last season while Wiggins added 23 ppg on 45 percent shooting.

As the season began the Wolves played as if Jimmy was the third option.

Wiggins and Towns averaged 16 shots per game each in October while in November, Wiggins averaged 15.4 shots and Towns averaged 13.9 shots.

Jimmy averaged 13.2 shots in October and 14.5 shots in November.

This formula made the Timberwolves a middle-of-the-road team, finishing November at 14-10.

Then the Timberwolves realized what we all should have realized - Jimmy Butler (who now averages 21.7 PPG, 5.0 APG, 5.4 RPG) is the best player on that team. No, I’m not saying he has a better post game than Towns and no I’m not saying he has a greater first step or crossover than Wiggins.

But Jimmy is likely the only player on that team on whom you can count to give a consistent all-star effort each night.

In December it seems the T’Wolves, and Jimmy, realized just that.

Jimmy averaged 17.9 shots per game and averaged 26 points on 50 percent shooting. Also, anyone who’s watched Jimmy knows he’s at his best when he’s going to the foul line. In the last month of 2017 he averaged 7.7 free throw attempts per game and made 7.2 - for those of who bringing out your calculator that’s 92 percent.

With Jimmy leading the charge, the T’Wolves went 10-5 in December and brought their record to 24-15.

In January, Jimmy’s shots are back down to 14.3 per game but that doesn’t mean he’s stopped being aggressive. His free throw attempts are up to 8.6 per game and he’s shooting 87 percent.

Oh, by the way, the T'Wolves are 6-4 in January. Maybe it’s time for Jimmy to start shooting more.

We can stop talking about his offense though because we all know Jimmy makes his bones on defense. He’s one of the best on-ball and off-ball defenders in the league. So obviously, the Timberwolves - who rank 21st in defensive rating this year - are far better at stopping teams when he’s on the court.

According to Basketball Reference, when he’s on the court the Wolves have a 106.8 defensive rating and when he’s on the bench the Wolves have a 117 defensive rating.

Lastly, here’s the thing that sets Jimmy apart - he’s one of three players in the NBA outside of LeBron and Kawhi who, on the last possession of the game, you trust to get you a good shot on the offensive end and guard the best player on the defensive end.

Last season we watched countless games where down the stretch Jimmy had to carry the Bulls offense and guard guys like John Wall, Russell Westbrook and LeBron James.

Jimmy averaged 4.3 points per game in clutch time - when the score is within five points and there’s under five minutes to go in the game – which was good for third in the NBA among people who played at least 25 games in clutch time. He was behind only Russell Westbrook, who won MVP, and Isaiah Thomas, who led the Celtics to the No. 1 seed in the East.

Look, I get why you don’t like Jimmy. He’s cocky and he’s pretty corny.

Also, he’s not very flashy. Jimmy doesn’t have a great crossover like James Harden, a great jumpshot like Bradley Beal and isn’t as quick as C.J. McCollum.

Doesn’t matter. Jimmy is still able to get to the basket, draw fouls when he needs to, and create space to get off a solid mid-range jump shot (which he’s shooting at 44 percent, btw.) Oh, and he can lock up your favorite player.

Despite whatever reason you may not be Jimmy Butler fan, Jimmy Butler is still good at basketball.