In an excellent piece, SB Nation’s Ricky O’Donnell takes a look at Heat superstar Jimmy Butler‘s sterling start for his new squad. O’Donnell contends that Butler has been everything the Heat wanted him to be when they inked him to a four-year, $141MM maximum contract in a sign-and-trade with the Sixers this summer.
Butler has been the rising tide to lift all ships on the Heat’s lengthy, defensive-oriented roster. As of this writing, Miami has leapt from No. 26 last year to No. 11 in offensive rating. The Heat are rated No. 8 on defense. Their 16-6 record is good for the third seed in the East, and they remain perfect (9-0) at home.
The 6’8″ wing has been stuffing stat sheets in every traditional and advanced category. Butler is averaging 20.5 PPG, plus career highs in rebounds (6.3 RPG) and assists (6.8 APG). In a 112-103 win over the Wizards last night, Butler recorded his second triple-double over the past three games. He scored 28 points (on 9-of-16 shooting from the field), pulled down 11 boards, and dished 11 dimes.
Following his Friday output, Butler currently ranks No. 5 in Player Impact Plus-Minus and No. 5 in FiveThirtyEight’s RAPTOR (“Robust Algorithm (using) Player Tracking (and) On/Off Ratings”) metric. He also sits at No. 6 in box score plus-minus, No. 5 in win shares per 48 minutes, and No. 7 in Value Over Replacement Player. Butler’s impact on the team can be felt on both ends of the court.
There’s more news out of South Beach:
- David Furones of the South Florida Sentinel reports that Butler might be giving at least one player an additional financial incentive to expand the breadth of his offense. After scoring a career-high 24 points in a win against the Wizards (in addition to blocking two shots and pulling down 14 rebounds), Bam Adebayo apparently owes Butler $500. Why? Because he didn’t shoot a triple during the game. Apparently, Adebayo owes Butler money for every contest in which he does not attempt a three, a fact that Adebayo only discovered “literally before the game,” according to the Heat center. Though this new arrangement appears to be all in good fun, Adebayo might want to keep his checkbook handy: he has only attempted six threes in 22 games this season.
- After going undrafted in 2018 out of Oakland University, Kendrick Nunn has earned some early Rookie of the Year buzz this season. The Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson details how the Heat’s vice president of basketball operations Adam Simon and general manager Andy Elisburg landed Nunn. As a backup guard for the Warriors’ G League affiliate last season, Nunn averaged 19.3 points. Miami inked Nunn on the final day of the 2o18/19 regular season, which equipped Nunn with full Bird rights for the moment his $3.1MM two-year-plus-one-day contract expires in 2021.
- Nunn, his fellow Heat rookie Tyler Herro (the No. 13 pick in the 2019 draft), and the team’s other new veteran additions haven’t just been impressing fans and NBA writers with their play this season. They’ve been impressing their longer-tenured teammates, too. The Athletic’s Andre Fernandez and Manny Navarro spoke with 17-year Heat vet Udonis Haslem about his new teammates’ obsessive ambition. “We have a lot of guys that have a chip on their shoulder, something to prove, so naturally it’s in a lot of these guys’ DNA,” Haslem said.