Heat star wing Jimmy Butler has had an outsized impact on the club during the games he has been available this season, per Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. As Chiang observes, the Heat are 6-13 in games played without Butler this year. Miami is 33-19 when Butler has suited up.
The veteran swingman is averaging 21.5 PPG and career highs of 6.9 RPG, 7.1 APG and 2.1 SPG for the club, though Chiang notes that Butler’s impact goes beyond these basic counting stats — his on/off-court net rating differential is 11.4 points per 100 possessions. Chiang posits that Butler, whose early-season injuries kept him out of making his sixth All-Star team, will earn significant consideration for All-NBA and All-Defensive team honors.
“I think if we had a complete year and a full year and health and everything, yeah Jimmy Butler, in my mind, has to be in that conversation for [league] MVP,” head coach Erik Spoelstra raved, while taking into consideration the fact that Butler and several of his teammates have missed significant time due to COVID-19 health and safety protocols and injuries during a truncated 2020/21 season. “I think his game is just continuing to grow, that’s as a winner, as a throw back player. A guy that really impacts the game on both ends of the court. He truly does, it’s not just talk. He has as much of an impact on the defensive side as he does the offensive side.”
The 39-32 Heat, currently the No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference, will conclude their season today against the 20-51 Pistons. Butler missed yesterday’s loss to Milwaukee due to lower back stiffness, and Chiang tweets that he will sit out the season finale as well.
There’s more out of South Beach:
- The Heat’s latest addition, 275-pound seven-footer Omer Yurtseven, inked his deal with Miami Friday. Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald reveals that the 22-year-old big man’s contract covers the 2021/22 season, though next year’s salary will be non-guaranteed. Yurtseven was undrafted out of Georgetown in 2020. “I think that will be the biggest thing, the rebounding and the defending,” he said during a video call with reporters Friday. “And on the other side of the floor, being able to stretch the floor, being a hybrid big.” Yurtseven played for the Oklahoma City Blue, the Thunder’s G League affiliate, during the 2020/21 NBAGL “bubble” season in Orlando. Across 14 games for the Blue, he averaged 15.2 PPG, 9.3 RPG, 1.5 APG, 1.4 BPG during 21.1 minutes. He also boasted a solid slash line of .626/.381/.680.
- Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel suggests that thinking too long-term could hurt the Heat’s short-term aspirations. Winderman points to the club’s decision to sign unproven rookie Yurtseven to its 15th and final roster spot over a veteran who could help the club in the playoffs.
- Heat center Bam Adebayo could net a major payoff if he earns end-of-year awards honors during the span of his maximum five-year, $163MM rookie extension with the club, as Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel notes. If Adebayo is named to the All-NBA First Team, the value of his deal increases to $186MM over the length of the contract. If he nets the Defensive Player of the Year award, his cumulative salary would increase to $179MM. Neither of those outcomes seems particularly likely this season, however.