Jimmy Butler looks to step into the departed Ronnie Brewer’s role with Bulls
Don’t insult Jimmy Butler by calling him a cheaper version of Ronnie Brewer.
Sure, the Bulls allowed Brewer to walk in free agency because they likely felt that Butler, drawing a lesser salary, could fill a similar role as a defensive spark plug off the bench.
The reality is that Butler believes he can define a new role on this year’s squad.
“I feel like I have to do what I do,” Butler said. “I’m not Ronnie Brewer. I’m not saying that in a bad way. But I can only be what I am and that is guard, that is hit open shots, a lot like Ronnie, but not like Ronnie at all.”
The second-year swingman isn’t talking in code, simply echoing what coach Tom Thibodeau feels when comparing the players.
Yes, both possess similar athleticism and are defensive-minded. But they differ simply in that no one really knows what type of player Butler is or will become. At age 23, his game is evolving.
Last season he saw spot duty when injuries forced Thibodeau to adjust his rotation, but he hasn’t had the opportunity to show how consistent he can be.
“He’s done all the things that he should have done,” Thibodeau said. “He’s in here all summer. He has to prove that he’s durable.
“You have to be out here every day working. So far he’s done that. Now he’s got to be able to take those things that he’s done in practice and do them in a game. That will be the next test.”
The Bulls won’t have the luxury of taking a wait-and-see approach as they did with Butler in the lockout-shortened 2011-2012 season. He certainly will be in the rotation.
Butler’s success in the minutes he plays will weigh heavily on what he is able to accomplish in training camp this month.
Among the biggest handicaps of last season’s labor strife was that Butler could not work with the coaching staff the summer before his rookie year. He had a short training camp and little practice time during the season.
Spending this summer with Thibodeau and his staff has given Butler the confidence he believes he’ll need to succeed.
“I definitely think it’s because I know I can do a lot more things on the floor,” Butler said. “And if that’s drive and look for open guy or take that open shot, I feel like I’ve been working on it all summer, so when it’s tossed up in the 5-on-5, I can execute.”
NOTE: Newly signed reserve guard Nate Robinson is offensive-minded and known around the league as a player who likes to run his mouth a bit.
In other words, he doesn’t exactly seem like the prototypical Thibodeau player.
But Thibodeau, who coached Robinson as an assistant in Boston for part of the 2009-10 season, said his personality could be of use.
“The pluses outweigh any negative,” Thibodeau said. “He is loud and I’d prefer the loud to be on defense. But he’s matured and he’s grown a lot. He’s sort of an X-factor and I like that. When he puts his mind to it, he’s very good defensively.”