Before this season, Derrick Rose had missed all but ten of the previous 164 regular season games the Chicago Bulls have played, dating back to the beginning of the 2012-13 season — just months after his 2011-12 season ended due to an ACL injury. The lockout-shortened 2011-12 season also doubled as Jimmy Butler’s rookie year, and the young shooting guard seems to have taken a leap in what is now his fourth season, averaging nearly 21 points, 6 rebounds and maintaining his status as one of the NBA’s best perimeter defenders.
Meanwhile, over at their division rival in Cleveland, Kyrie Irving and LeBron James have been Cavaliers teammates for approximately one month, which makes the following statistic really, really depressing:
LeBron James and Kyrie Irving have played more career minutes together (399) than Jimmy Butler and Derrick Rose (314).
— Kelly Scaletta (@KellyScaletta) November 25, 2014
If you recall, that 2012 Bulls team was primed for a run with Rip Hamilton as the starting shooting guard and sharp shooter Kyle Korver coming off the bench. With Ronnie Brewer also on hand to play shooting guard, that left few minutes for Butler — especially playing for a contender coached by tom Thibodeau. Add in 27 missed games for Rose during that season, and there weren’t many opportunities for the two current stars to appear on the court together.
It’s also worth mentioning that Rose’s absence is a possible reason for stunting Butler’s growth a bit, as he’s had to play heavy minutes alongside backup point guards the last two years. Even though he posted career highs last season, Butler’s shooting percentage dropped to below 40% (hit three-point shooting tumbled down to 28% as well). He’s turned it around in the early going this season, posting career highs in all major categories while shooting nearly 50% from the field. Barring health issues, the Bulls should be right back where they were two years ago. Hopefully.
[photo via Chicago Tribune]