Since joining them two seasons ago, he has helped transform them from a mediocre team to one that has a clear identity and has been one of the NBA’s best.
Butler has come a long way in the last few years.
When he was a member of the Minnesota Timberwolves, he accused teammates, particularly Karl-Anthony Towns, of being soft, and it caused him to be accused of being a toxic influence.
But ever since joining the Heat, he has become a glue guy and is now considered a strong and productive leader.
Despite all the good he has done of late, why isn’t he considered a superstar?
It is ironically because of one of his best qualities.
Butler Is Team-Oriented To A Fault
The Marquette University product is not your typical elite player who takes about 20 shots a game and consistently imposes his will on his opponents.
Butler often bides his time in games, letting his teammates get themselves going and feeling out the game before deciding if and when to assert himself.
In the regular season, Butler took just 14.5 shots per game, which is not exactly superstar material.
But when the chips are down, he gets relentless, not just offensively, but also defensively.
Out of the 4 stars left in these NBA playoffs, nobody is more cold blooded in the clutch than Jimmy Butler.
Playoff Jimmy is hands down the best get a bucket & then get a stop player in the NBA. pic.twitter.com/qqyxnSZatF
— 3rd & Juan #Heatin6 (@3rdnJuan) May 18, 2022
The Heat win by slowing down the pace and spreading the wealth around offensively, and perhaps if Butler took more shots over the course of a game, as he did when he was with the Chicago Bulls several years ago, it would somewhat disrupt the Heat’s rhythm.
But his impact on the team is undeniable, and when one looks at his net rating in this year’s playoffs, one has to admit that he may be underrated.
Heat's stats during the playoffs when Jimmy Butler is on vs. off the court, via PBP Stats 😮 pic.twitter.com/ofHM9gRq6V
— Steph Noh (@StephNoh) May 13, 2022
In the 2020 playoffs, when Miami upset the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks, Butler took just eight shots and scored 13 points in Game 2, but he made the decisive play when he drew a foul on Giannis Antetokounmpo just before the end of the fourth quarter and made both free throws to give Miami a 116-114 win and a 2-0 series lead.
This Year, He Has Been Dynamite
In those 2020 playoffs, Butler was excellent, but in this year’s postseason, he has certainly played like a superstar.
The Heat have gone up against a couple of more talented teams (on paper, at least) in the Philadelphia 76ers and now the Boston Celtics.
Versus the Sixers, he had three games with at least 32 points to help the Heat get past them in six games, and in Game 1 against Boston, he exploded for 41 points, nine rebounds, five assists, four steals and three blocked shots.
Through 11 playoff games, he is averaging 29.8 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 5.4 assists a game while leading the NBA with 2.3 steals per game.
Those are certainly superstar numbers.
At this point of his career, Butler will not change his unselfish-to-a-fault approach, and he certainly won’t do it to appease his critics, as he is one guy who doesn’t seem to care what others think of him.
The Heat could very well win the NBA championship next month, but regardless of whether they do, Butler deserves a little more respect than he has gotten.