Jimmy Butler finally made his long-awaited debut for the Miami Heat on Tuesday, as he helped his side to a 112-97 victory against the Atlanta Hawks. The 30-year-old missed his team’s first three games of the new season as he attended to the birth of his new daughter, but he was more than happy to return to action on Tuesday night.
Butler finished the game with 21 points (on 5-of-11 shooting), one three-pointer, five rebounds, two assists, and three steals. He scored more than half of his points in the first quarter alone, ending the opening frame with 12 markers. Butler definitely looked like he wanted to make up for lost time, and his enthusiasm was something that was greatly appreciated not only by his teammates, but by everyone in attendance at the AmericanAirlines Arena as well.
Butler has now become Miami’s new cornerstone superstar, and as a result, he is expected to have an extremely high usage rate throughout the season. Tuesday night was a good preview of things to came, with the offense flowing through Butler during his 31 minutes of action. The four-time All-Star did turn the ball over four times, so surely, this is something that he will need to watch out for, as he will have the rock in his hands significantly. He averages 1.5 turnovers per game in his career, so perhaps tonight’s inefficiency can be chalked off as some first game jitters.
It is worth noting that Butler went 10-of-15 from the line, which can be considered as both a good and a bad thing. This goes to show that he was very aggressive on the evening, and had zero hesitation to take contact in order to make the play. On the other hand, he is a career 83.4-percent shooter from the line, so Tuesday’s 66.7-percent showing is definitely uncharacteristic. Hopefully, this is nothing more than an off night from the line.
Finally, we will need to take into account that it’s only been a couple of days since Butler became a first-time father. This will definitely need some getting used to, and more likely than not, sleep has become a luxury that Butler has not had — or at least very little of — over the past few days. Once he is able to sort out things at home, then surely, he should be able to channel more of his energy to basketball. Then again, there is probably no better inspiration in the world than to play for one’s own bundle of joy, so in this respect, this is definitely one thing Butler has going for him.
All things considered, we’re giving Jimmy Butler a solid B+ for his Miami debut. His first appearance in a Heat uniform was very good, but it wasn’t exactly great. It’s a long season ahead, and the former Most Improved Player of the Year winner will have a lot of time to acclimatize himself. Judging by what we’ve seen on Tuesday, though, we don’t think it will be very long before Butler starts stuffing the stat sheet for his new squad.