M-V-P the Chicago crowd chanted--premature but reasonable. The chant must have made Derrick Rose nostalgic for his own MVP days not long ago. (The pre-injury Rose was NBA MVP in 2011.) The chant may have sounded familiar to young pterodactyl-winged Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Pelicans--he's got an MVP award in his future, everyone seems to agree. But it was for Jimmy Butler, whose preseason odds of hearing that chant directed at him were about a million to one. Welcome to Jimmy Butler's lesson in Opportunity Knocks.
Butler had 33 points, including 9 of the last 16, in a Bulls victory over the Pelicans on Saturday night. As is required by coach Thibodeau in Chicago, Butler is a defensive master, grinding on his opponents like that old Chicago backcourt used to do. But now Butler is also scoring like mad on a team that really struggled to score last year yet still looked formidable. (Things are looking very bright for the Bulls.) Butler has gone for 30-plus in three of the last six games, getting to the basket easily. Fouled there, he's automatic from the free throw line. The way Butler's getting into the paint, there's a temptation to compare the resurgent Rose and Butler to the Jordan-Pippen Bulls backcourt of yore. But what Jimmy Butler really looks like out there is fellow Marquette alum back when he was in his prime--a guy named Dwyane Wade.
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