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Nine years into his NBA career, Jimmy Butler has subtly shortened his shooting range and perhaps lengthened his career. The first-year Miami Heat forward has figured out that getting to paint a little more often rather than settling for what’s available on the perimeter has made him that much more dangerous.

Considering that Butler was already on the shortlist of top forwards, that spells trouble for the opposition.

Jimmy Butler is getting it done for the Miami Heat

Jimmy Butler has consistently been a 45-46% marksman from the field throughout his NBA career. Coupled with steady numbers in the rebounding and assist columns, that’s more than enough accuracy to keep the 30-year-old from Marquette gainfully employed.

Butler averaged at least 18.2 points a game in each of his last six seasons and is checking in at 20.3 a game in his first year with the Miami Heat. What we’re seeing now, however, is less checking up at the arc to let it fly and more drives to the paint. Consequently, he’s going to the free-throw line more than in any previous season in his career.

The added benefit is that he is averaging career highs of 6.1 assists and 6.6 rebounds per game. The numbers are reflected in the Heat’s bottom line, too. Had the NBA season not been turned on its ear by the pandemic, Miami would certainly be logging its first 50-win regular season since 2014.

As it is, the Heat own fourth place in the Eastern Conference standings and are breathing down the neck of the No. 3 Boston Celtics.

He plays defense, too

The part of Jimmy Butler’s game that’s easy to forget is that he is relentless on the half of the court where stopping the ball matters. He made the second-team NBA All-Defensive Team four times in five seasons and might very well move up to the first team this year.

Butler doesn’t earn the love from fans or in the media that LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard get, but he’s awfully close to their output and at least as valuable to his team.

Perhaps one reservation about him is the way his time with the Minneapolis Timberwolves ended. The Chicago Bulls, who’d selected Butler late in the first round of the 2011 draft, traded him to Minnesota before the 2017-18 season. Though he produced for the Timberwolves, Butler didn’t want to be there and demanded a trade before the start of his second season in the Twin Cities.

Minnesota traded Butler after a 5-5 start. The team never really recalibrated, and the ownership fired coach Tom Thibodeau in midseason.

Butler finished out the season in Philadelphia, then agreed to a complicated sign-and-ship trade also involving the Miami Heat, Los Angeles Clippers, and Portland Trail Blazers.

A nice parting gift sets Jimmy Butler up for life


Jimmy Butler Finally Sounds Off About What Went Wrong With the 76ers

The sign-and-trade arrangement between Jimmy Butler and the Philadelphia 76ers was more than just negotiating the bureaucracy to make the pieces of the trade fit. Butler negotiated a pay bump from $20.44 million in his final season as a 76er to $32.74 million this season with the Miami Heat.

The Heat contract totals $140.7 million over four years. pegged Butler’s net worth at $30 million earlier this year, but that relied upon old salary data. With $110.5 million in career salaries up to now in addition to endorsements, that estimate is likely low by as much as 50%.

With $108 million due to him over the next three seasons, Butler is on track to be a $100 million man by this time in 2023.