Who Was Chosen Before Jimmy Butler in the 2011 Draft?

It can be interesting to look back at a draft class several years after the draft occurred to see review the picks and determine which teams did well with their selections and which didn’t. It can also be fun to see which high picks ended up as busts and which stars went later in the draft than they probably should have. One such bargain in the 2011 NBA draft was Jimmy Butler, who the Bulls took with the final pick of the first round, No. 30 overall.

That means 29 guys went before Butler. Some have worked out in the NBA, others haven’t. Here are some of the players who were chosen before Butler.

Jimmy Butler’s pre-draft scouting report

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ESPN gave a scouting profile of Butler leading up to the draft, and praised many aspects of his game. ESPN’s scouts praised Butler as a “smooth scorer” who can score from inside or outside. The profile also said he is a “solid rebounder” and had the potential to be a “lockdown defender.”

But there are also negatives, which included him not being a great athlete, lacking “great quickness or explosiveness,” and possibly being “a bit of a tweener,” meaning Butler may not have had a true position to play. Overall, ESPN projected him to be on the first-round bubble, which came to pass at No. 30.

Players drafted before Jimmy Butler

The list of players taken before the Bulls grabbed Butler is pretty long, at 29. Here are some notable players who came off the board before him, both stars and busts.

No. 1 pick: Kyrie Irving

Sometimes the top pick works out, sometimes he’s a bust. In the case of Kyrie Irving, he has become a star in the league, being a six-time All-Star with a championship ring on his finger.

No. 2 pick: Derrick Williams

Derrick Williams would be considered a bust at No. 2. He played for six teams in his seven-year NBA career before heading overseas to continue his basketball career.

No. 6 pick: Jan Vesely

The Wizards drafted Vesely at No. 6, and it didn’t pay off. He only lasted three seasons in the NBA — averaging 3.6 points per game — before going to Europe, where he has succeeded in the EuroLeague.

No. 9 pick: Kemba Walker

The then-Bobcats took Kemba Walker with the ninth pick of the draft, and he played eight seasons for them, averaging just shy of 20 points and 5.4 assists per game, helping him earn three All-Star selections with Charlotte and four overall for his career so far.

No. 29 pick: Cory Joseph

Cory Joseph went to the Spurs with the penultimate pick in the first round and the final pick before Butler went. Joseph spent four seasons with the Spurs and is still in the NBA today, playing for the Kings. He has a career 6.9 points-per-game average.

Butler’s impact on the NBA

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Jimmy Butler has had a significant impact on the NBA in his career. The Marquette alum has a career average of 17 points per game, but he has averaged more than 20 per game in five different seasons. He has also grabbed just over five rebounds per game and has dished out 3.7 assists on average.

He is one of the better defenders in the league, having been named to the All-Defensive Second Team four times in nine seasons, and he is a five-time All-Star. And he doesn’t seem to be slowing down.

Even at 30 years old, Butler is scoring at a rate of 20.2 points per game in the 54 games he played for the Heat prior to this season being suspended due to the pandemic.

All stats courtesy of Basketball Reference