The Chicago Bulls are a solid 9-5 this season, despite Derrick Rose once again missing games with injuries.
Fourth-year wing Jimmy Butler has emerged as the Bulls’ best player. Butler is posting career-highs of 20.8 points on 49.7% shooting with 5.8 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game. He’s also playing an absurd 39 minutes per game.
Butler was ready for a breakout season this year. In a profile on Butler from Sports Illustrated’s Ben Golliver, Butler said he went the entire summer without cable and Internet so he would be forced to work out more:
Butler and his friends rented a house for the summer so that they could spend time together, but he says he purposefully chose not to furnish it.
“I wanted to be so good at the game that we didn’t have cable, we didn’t have the Internet,” he recalled. “Whenever we got bored, all we would do is go to the gym. We’d eat, sleep and go to the gym. We’d go three times a day because we didn’t have anything else to do. We were sitting on the couch, looking at each other, saying, ‘What the hell are we going to do all day?'”
Butler struggled last season, shooting just 39% from the field, 28% from three-point range, and posting a 13.5 PER, which is below the league-average 15. Butler also played extended minutes last season — 38 per game — but says he wasn’t physically right: “I was hurt, I was moving sluggishly, I was heavier.”
This season, Butler says he’s down 12 pounds from last year after he had previously tried to bulk up to guard bigger players. His offseason regimen included 7 a.m.-to 8-p.m. days, lifting, running on the track, doing individual skills work, yoga, Pilates, and breaks for meals and a nap.
Butler will be a restricted free agent this summer after turning down a four-year, $US40-million extension from the Bulls. At the rate he’s going, he may very well trump that offer, thus dignifying a strict offseason.
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