Despite not scoring a lot in the early portion of the schedule, new Timberwolves superstar Jimmy Butler has already had a significant impact on the team.
The Minnesota Timberwolves are off to a solid start, with a 7-3 record through the first 10 games.
A big reason for that has been because of the acquisition of guard Jimmy Butler. They lost both games in which he did not play due to a respiratory infection, giving up 130 and 122 points, respectively.
In the eight games that he’s played, the Timberwolves have given up 105.8 points per game. For the season, they are allowing 109.8 points per contest — 26th in the league. Not very good, of course, but they do seem to be headed in the right direction. They have allowed less than 100 in each of their past three games heading into Golden State on Wednesday night and will continue to improve as they get more familiar with each other.
Butler has not been scoring a lot, but he does not need to with Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns carrying much of the scoring load. New additions Jeff Teague and Jamal Crawford have also been helping out in scoring.
Butler does not have any issues sharing the ball with them.
"“If Wiggs is rolling, if Wiggs is open, I’m going to throw him the ball,” Butler said. “KAT’s open, I’m going to throw him the ball.”"
So far, he is averaging 15.1 points per game and taking 12.1 shots per game. Both are less than what he averaged in each of his past three seasons; his 23.9 points per game and 16.5 shots per game last season were both career highs.
His shooting percentages, assists, rebounds, steals and blocks are all down too, but Butler is not worried about that.
"“My plan is to win. That’s all I ever want to do,” he said. “I don’t care if I’m scoring, passing, if I’m just a defender, if I don’t shoot any shots or whether I shoot 100. … As long as we win, I’m cool, I’m happy.“I don’t care what anybody says about how I’m playing, I really don’t. We’re winning. So, at the end of the day, I’m a winner. We’re winning, we’re good.”"
Winning is something that has not happened very much since the Wolves advanced to the Western Conference Finals in 2004. As has been well-documented, they have not been back to the playoffs since and have not had a winning season since the 2004-2005 campaign (44-38).
In the Wolves 112-99 win over the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday, Butler had only four points on 1-of-7 shooting, but still had seven assists and five rebounds. The Wolves were also a plus-13 when he was on the court.
The addition of not only Butler, but also Taj Gibson, Teague and Crawford have all helped and having Wiggins and Towns still around only helps that much more.
Tom Thibodeau coached Butler with the Chicago Bulls and continues to speak highly of him.
"“I always say the actions reflect one’s priorities. It’s not the words,” Thibodeau said. “Often times, you hear people say things and they never do the things they say. But when you watch what they’re doing, it tells you what’s important to them. So, Jimmy has always played that way. If you went back and watched him play in college (at Marquette), he played that way in college. … That’s the great value in him. He’s an all-around player, he can beat you in a lot of different ways, he’s willing to sacrifice and put the team first.”"
His defense, which is his main calling card, has really helped quite a bit.
Playing good defense and being unselfish helps a lot, especially when you already have two players who average 20 points per game. His ability to score is still there and will continue to do enough to help this team win.
Butler has helped this team in many ways. Having veteran leadership on a young team is also a very good asset to have. Once Butler and the rest of his teammates gel more as a unit, it is going to be a very good sight.
Many Wolves fans hated to see Zach LaVine go, but getting Butler was the right move and the Wolves would not be as good of a team without him.