Coming off a postseason where he was arguably the league’s second-best player behind Stephen Curry, it appears Jimmy Butler might be getting some profound respect heading into the 2022-23.
CBS Sports released their annual top-100 player rankings Tuesday; ESPN has released theirs, but just 100-26 as they’re planning to release their top-25 throughout the rest of the week.
Anywho, Butler was tabbed a top-10 player in CBS Sports’ rankings! Here is what CBS Sports’ Brad Botkin had to say about Butler:
“No more sleeping on Butler as a superstar. You could argue there aren’t more than seven or eight guys you’d rather have on your side in a playoff series. Since arriving in Miami, Butler has taken a more pass-heavy approach in the regular season before turning up the scoring in the playoffs. Butler puts his defenders on ice with pump fakes and footwork, and he drew a foul on over 20 percent of his shot attempts last season, per Cleaning The Glass. And when you convert 87 percent of your free throws, well, that’s creeping into prime James Harden territory.”
Butler averaged 21.4 points, 5.9 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 1.6 steals per game last season. He shot 48.0 percent from the floor — 52.0 percent on 2s and 55.9 percent inside 10 feet — and 87.0 percent from the charity stripe, evidently equaling a 59.2 percent true-shooting mark.
Last postseason, however, Butler was one of the league’s best players. He posted career bests in scoring (27.4 ppg) while also averaging 7.4 rebounds, 4.6 assists and a league-most 2.1 steals on 50.6/33.8/84.1 shooting splits (60.4 TS%).
The now-33-year-old forward had four 40-point games in the postseason after having none in 57 regular season contests. The best was his memorable 47-point, 9-rebound, 8-assist, 4-steal outing on 16-of-29 shooting (4-8 3PT) in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals on an injured knee.
It was one for the ages:
Here were the nine players ranked ahead of Butler:
- Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks
- Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors
- Kevin Durant, Brooklyn Nets
- Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets
- Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks
- Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers
- LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers
- Kawhi Leonard, Los Angeles Clippers
- Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics
That’s pretty good company, right? Butler also ranked ahead of Clippers’ Paul George, Memphis Grizzlies’ Ja Morant, Portland Trail Blazers’ Damian Lillard and Atlanta Hawks’ Trae Young, among plenty others.
These lists are always subjective and oftentimes splitting the most marginal of hairs between each player. I’m not sure if there’s one right answer for any of these spots. Nevertheless, it seems as if Butler is finally getting some recognition. Since joining Miami, CBS Sports has tabbed Butler as the 14th-best, 13th-best and 15th-best player, respectively.
Now, Butler has presumably cracked the top-10 threshold, at least by them. Whether he can uphold it is a different question for a different day, but it’s refreshing to see the national media follow what a considerable sector of Heat fans have been screaming into the clouds for the last three seasons.