No. Not Jimmy Butler!
In this most mangled of fantasy basketball campaigns, the extended loss of Butler is difficult to accept. Why?
Because Butler is the kind of player and statistical producer fandom can get behind. The sight of a post-Lauvergne Butler, wheelchair-bound, elicited feelings that go beyond mere fantasy geekery. Butler is the people's champion. The early career defensive specialist done good.
I've always loved Jimmy Butler. But I rarely roster him. My problem with Butler? An injury like this stokes my own anti-Butler narrative, in that his flat-out, all-out breakneck style of play leads to the very instances that diminish his fantasy value.
He gets hurt far too often. Butler's second gear is difficult to locate.
Butler is a tough-minded, multi-categorical asset. But he's played an 82-game season only once in his young career: 2012-13, where he averaged only 26.0 minutes per game. As a full-time starter? He's never played a full season.
This season, it hurts the most. Butler's per-game averages: 22.4 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 1.7 steals and 1.1 3-pointers; that's a bit of terrific. But Butler seems to miss out on a prerequisite amount of games. In non-daily fantasy sports situations, just 65 games played amounts to a 20 percent loss of value compared to a full-season contributor.
Focusing on the now? What hurts even more is that the Bulls lack a clear statistical successor to Butler. E'Twaun Moore, anybody?
Historically, this is the kind of situation that can produce a nice little statistical Cinderella story. Normally, I'd look toward Moore or Doug McDermott to step up and become a nice temporary asset.
I have more hope for Moore out of those two. At least he's shown a dab of the multi-categorical propensity that makes Butler a special fantasy player. Butler's secret sauce lies in his assist rate. A per-game rate of 4.3 dimes from a SG/SF is a huge asset. In a frequent Derrick Rose-less environment, it's an admirable numerical trait.
At times, Moore at least tries to duplicate Butler's floor generalship. He had seven assists against the Timberwolves Saturday night. Moore also steps up like Butler in the defensive categories. He's capable of averaging a steal and a block per game.
One area where Moore shines is 3-point production. He outpaces Butler's comparatively mediocre 3-point percentage, .439 to .331. And that ratio hasn't sunk with expanded court time. In his past five games, Moore is hitting 55 percent of his 3-pointers.
Compare all of Moore's fantasy potential to the one-note, Mad Max-esque, post-apocalyptic statistical wasteland that is McDermott. I've enjoyed the man's offense-rich summer league performances. But to date, he has nothing to offer outside of the occasional 3-pointer. To date, during the course of an 86-game career, McDermott has posted 11 steals. That's accompanied by a grand total of 37 assists and five blocks.
Oh, and this is all happening with a career true shooting percentage of .524. And as much as I've occasionally appreciated Mike Dunleavy during the past decade, at this point, he's a part-time player. A timeshare.
Until McDermott does something -- anything -- to resemble an off-night Jimmy Butler? I'm pulling for Moore to stay on the court, and he's the man fantasy owners should be targeting from this bunch.