You might have heard the term “copycat league” used to describe the NBA. That term is associated with the fact that every offseason, NBA franchises are looking to somehow copy or mimic the model of the last NBA champion. The argument could also be made that basketball is a copycat game. Players, teams, and coaches consciously watch and study one another as students of the game.
When great individual talents converge onto one team, I’m always giddy to watch for what kind of impact they have on one another, much like the anticipation of seeing what kind of duo LeBron James and Kyrie Irving would be together in Cleveland. The Chicago Bulls haven’t assembled a legitimate super team by adding Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade, but particularly in the Wade signing, they’ve given Jimmy Butler, their best player, the best gift he could have.
Butler has the potential to become a true monster by playing with Wade. The irony lies in knowing that Wade was not too long ago heralded as one of the league’s premier shooting guards, and Butler has basically taken his place. I think that Wade is going to relish in the chance to help mold Butler, like his buddy LeBron is now doing with Kyrie Irving, and for Butler, Wade’s influence can do wonders for his game.
As maybe the most surprisingly emerged elites as of late, Butler proved to be a 20-point per game scorer the past two seasons. While he continues to improve in just about every area of his game, what Wade brings to the table can ascend him even further. For starters, Wade’s knack for playing in the post. His poise, patience, and presence with his back to the basket isn’t just something for Butler to learn from, but also to benefit from on the floor.
That’s the thing too — Butler doesn’t just have the potential to become better because of what he’ll be able to steal from Wade’s game, but also because of how Wade operates as a playmaker on the floor. It might seem like an overhaul to have Rondo and Wade out there, but ideally for Butler, it means having two high-caliber creators on the floor who can make life easier for him as a scorer. Last season, Pau Gasol set up Butler for a team-high 86 assists, more than double what he received from his point guard Derrick Rose (41). The kind of probing attention caused by Rondo and Wade should provide Butler with easier scoring opportunities and lessen the need for him to play hero ball.
Learning from a champion is always invaluable, but Jimmy Butler has a unique opportunity ahead. He has the chance to learn from and mimic one of the league’s all-time great shooting guards, to expand his game even further in that regard, and frankly, to become the kind of monster we may have never seen otherwise.