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.