NBA

1 Reason Jimmy Butler and the Heat Are Legitimate NBA Title Contenders

Jimmy Butler’s move to Miami from Philadelphia might have slid under the radar in an offseason that saw many of the biggest names in the NBA change addresses. The Heat is looking forward to a new era, and Butler is a major part of their plans. While many players speak highly of their new teams, it can come across as disingenuous and playing for the crowd, but when Butler spoke about his expectations for his new team, he might not have been doing so frivolously. 

What did Jimmy Butler say?  

Butler did not hold back on where he sees his team going forward, nor did he say the things he said without backing them up. Butler will always be a player who speaks his mind, for better or for worse, and his talk with Michael Lee of The Athletic was the perfect example: 

“The ceiling is a championship. And I don’t care what nobody has to say,” Butler said to Lee. “If the stars align, we can get it done. If we figure this thing out, we stay together, we get our defense on track, we get our offense on track, and we become top five in both categories, we right there. We right there. We’ve got an opportunity to do something special, and we’re working at it every single day.”

There were certainly moments where readers could see him propping up the team too much, but the data backs up the overall sentiment of his praise. 

Strength on offense and defense 

Erik Spoelstra has long been lauded as one of the most balanced coaches in the NBA. He was, after all, the coach who got LeBron James and Dwyane Wade to click for two championships. Now, he has an entirely different type of roster and a team whose star is unlike most other stars in that he does a little of everything and doesn’t need 25 or 30 points a game to dominate. 

Jimmy Butler said that the team would need to be top five in both offense and defense, and while they are not in the top five on either, the Heat are doing well on both ends. The team’s scoring ranks 14th in the NBA at 111 points per game, and their 105.5 points against are eighth in the NBA. The team is, however, top ten in both offensive rating and defensive rating. 

The team has a ways to go before they can be where Butler wants them to be, but they are not far off, either. 

One reason Jimmy Butler believes the Heat can win an NBA title

The Heat have seven players averaging more than ten points a game, with Kelly Olynyk barely missing the cut with nine points. This type of roster makeup can ease the load on Jimmy Butler and allow for him to do his thing without relying on any single player also putting up 20 points. The young core of Justise Winslow, Bam Adebayo, Tyler Herro, and breakout star Kendrick Nunn could have a massive night, but a balanced effort can be better than putting everything on one or two players. 

Butler is the leader of the new-look Heat, but the team has depth from top to bottom. Butler doesn’t need another player to pick up the scoring load, and this makes his role quite different than the one he had in Minnesota or Philadelphia. Pat Riley may not be on the sidelines anymore, but he has proven that he can put together a championship roster more than once. 

Is Butler right about the Heat’s chances? 

Butler might have been trying to impress his new team with his words, but he wasn’t being ridiculous in his assessment of the team. The team is standing at 15-8 through 23 games, which is eighth in the NBA. They are right in the mix with many teams who were tagged as contenders in the preseason, and while they are not perfect, they are the best possible version of himself. 

Jimmy Butler’s last two stops may not have ended the way he wanted them to, but his start in Miami might be his best chance to win a ring, yet. It might not happen this year or next year, but with a young core and good chemistry, the team could be a dark horse sooner than people think.