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Grading The Bulls: Jimmy Butler

A look at the performances of the 2011-2012 roster

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    One day, Jimmy Butler may replace Luol Deng in the Bulls starting lineup. But the rookie from Marquette still has a lot of work to do.

    Rookie Jimmy Butler was brought in to be an understudy to Bulls All-Star Luol Deng and, who knows, maybe even a cheaper replacement if push ever comes to shoving Luol out the door.

    The 22-year-old rookie from Marquette is known for his defensive prowess and now all we have to do is wait until the offensive part of his game evolves. He played in 42 games this season while averaging almost three points per game. He also shot 41 percent from the field and and 77 percent from the free throw line.

    The things you can complain about when it comes to his game during his rookie season? He shot just 18 percent from the three-point line, and outside of Brian Scalabrine who appeared in fewer regular-season games, Butler averaged just 1.3 rebounds per game. How bad is that?

    John Lucas averaged 1.6 rebounds per game as the third guard off the bench and he's almost an entire foot shorter than Butler.

    Of course his rebound numbers are a little misleading when you consider the many outings where Butler played just seconds, but there have been instances where he's played a minute or more and still came away with zero rebounds. For a guy who's 6-8 and 220 pounds, that can't happen.

    Butler's best game of the season (and his career to this point) came against the Atlanta Hawks in January when he put up a perfect night. He was 3-3 from the field and 6-6 from the free-throw line, good for 12 points in the game, his career high. He would match that point output in the final game of the regular season against the Cleveland Cavaliers as well.

    In the playoffs against Philadelphia, Butler appeared in three of the six games but played a total of just over four minutes in the entire postseason.

    Playing under Tom Thibodeau will almost certainly help Butler become an elite perimeter defender in the mold of Luol Deng. All he has to do is refine his offensive game, especially his jump shooting. He has great size, is very athletic and by all accounts, is a hard worker as well.

    He will be one of the featured players for the Bulls in the NBA's Summer League which takes place in July and he'll have an opportunity to not only learn, but he'll also get minutes to help him work out the kinks and refine his game.

    He may not been a part of Thibs' rotation this season, but with heavy minutes being an issue for Deng over the past two seasons, expect Butler to crack the rotation, giving a chance for Bulls fans to become more familiar with him.

    Grade: C-