Former Chicago Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau says that the Bulls didn’t view Jimmy Butler as a superstar in his stint with Chicago.
After being drafted in 2011 with the 30th pick in the NBA Draft, Jimmy Butler was deemed as more of a project than a player who could contribute to a contending team immediately. The Chicago Bulls, at the time, were at the peak of the Derrick Rose era.
They had the youngest-ever MVP in Rose, a DPOY in Joakim Noah and a plethora of stellar pieces surrounding the two. Jimmy Butler wasn’t really a priority for the Bulls and it was telling with the 8.5 minutes he received per game in his rookie year.
However, as that 2011 Bulls team started to disband either due to injuries or guys asking for trades, Jimmy Butler stepped up to the plate. Butler become a star with the Bulls but the then head coach Tom Thibodeau thought otherwise.
Coach Thibs didn’t believe Jimmy Butler was a superstar with the Bulls
Jimmy Butler had his best statistical regular season during his stint with the Bulls. He averaged 24 points, 5.5 assists, and 6.4 rebounds in the 2016-17 season. It would be assumed that with numbers like this, Chicago would have loved to build around their new two-way star.
Head coach Tom Thibodeau didn’t believe in Jimmy the way that he would’ve liked to. He said, “To say we saw him as a superstar, we didn’t see that.”
More Tom Thibodeau on Butler in Chicago: “To say we saw him as a superstar, we didn’t see that.” Now sees Butler as, “One of the elite players in the league.”
— Ira Winderman (@IraHeatBeat) February 7, 2021
This holds some validity to it, as Butler definitely was nowhere close to being an All-Star at the time. However, fast forward to the present day, and you’ll find Butler averaging nearly a 30 point triple-double in the NBA Finals. This came against the cream of the crop in the Lakers, all while taking them to 6 games.
Thibs admits that he now sees the Marquette graduate as, “one of the elite players in the league.”