The Timberwolves new duo of Jimmy Butler and Andrew Wiggins may remind fans of the duo that Butler formed with Luol Deng in Chicago — and for good reason.
The new Timberwolves pairing of Jimmy Butler-Andrew Wiggins duo is something teams will need to game plan for — and that’s probably putting it lightly.
Butler is coming off of a season in which he averaged 23.9 points, 6.2 rebounds and 5.5 assists, which were all career-highs. Wiggins averaged 23.6 points last season, although his per-game averages of four rebounds and just 2.3 assists paled in comparison to Jimmy’s numbers.
Not too long ago, however, Butler was in the same position as Wiggins: trying to learn about the league and how to become a consistently good player. And he had the opportunity to learn exactly that from Luol Deng back when both were playing for the Chicago Bulls.
Deng made a name for himself playing under Tom Thibodeau in Chicago. With the Bulls, Deng averaged 16.1 points for his career and was a two-time All-Star. Eventually, Butler was drafted and Deng and Butler made quite the wing combo with their ability to shoot, play defense, run the wings, and also play a ton of minutes — a requirement under Thibs.
Butler can say that Deng made an impact in terms of teaching him how to work on his craft and, ultimately, becoming the player is he today. Among other thing, Deng and Butler used to shoot around with each other into the late night, working on their game together. Clearly, Deng had a lasting impact on the new Timberwolves star.
Now that Butler has moved on from the Bulls, it is time to show young Andrew Wiggins what it takes to be successful in this league, what it takes to be consistent, and how to win. Butler is now in Deng’s old role as a mentor. Just like Deng/Butler, Butler/Wiggins both like to get out to run the break, can knock down jumpers, are capable defenders when they put their mind to it and have athleticism.
And just like Butler came into the league under Deng’s wing, Butler should do the exact same thing for Wiggins. The veteran will be looked at as a leader for this young team, and he will definitely be counting on his young teammates to help in making the leap to becoming a playoff team.