Each week, one Bulls player will be selected as The Bulls Charge’s “Player of the Week.” The selections will be based off the player’s performance during the previous week. Readers’ views and suggestions are taken into consideration when choosing the player, but the editor ultimately makes the decision.
Last week was a perfect example of why Jimmy Butler is the star of the Bulls.
Butler not only had a fantastic start to the week, posting a career-high 42 points, but he also managed to be the Bulls’ leading scorer for all four games of the first full week of 2016. He wasn’t just doing all the scoring himself, though. He also posted 10 assists in back-to-back games for the first time in his career.
For the week as a whole, Butler led the team with 30.0 points, 4.8 rebounds, 6.8 assists and 1.0 steal while shooting 52.0 percent from the field and 42.9 percent on 3-pointers.
Jan. 3: 115-113 win at Toronto Raptors
This game wasn’t looking good for the Bulls before Butler took over.
He had just two points in the first half before leaving to get stitches after an accidental elbow from DeMarre Carroll. When Butler returned in the second half, he took control of the game, scoring 40 points in the second half to best the former franchise record 39 points in a half set by none other than Michael Jordan.
Considering the Bulls scored a total of 67 points in the second half, it’s safe to say Butler single-handedly won the game for his team.
Jan. 5: 117-106 win versus Milwaukee Bucks
Butler was one of three Bulls to post a double-double in their win against the Celtics. His 32 points were a game high, and his 10 assists were a team high that trailed Michael Carter-Williams’ 12 assists.
Butler also had the most free throws, shooting 8-for-8 from the charity stripe. This contributed to the Bulls’ perfect 20-for-20 on free throws, a feat that helped the Bulls prevent a probable close game.
Jan. 7: 101-92 win versus Boston Celtics
The Bulls’ win over the Celtics was a much more balanced, team effort than any of their other games during the week, so, for once, this wasn’t a game in which Butler should have garnered most of the attention. Despite that, Butler managed to be his team’s leader yet again — not just because of his game-high 19 points, but also because of his game-high 10 assists.
One low point of Butler’s performance in the win over the Celtics would be his shooting: Butler shot 5-of-14 from the field, so it wasn’t an efficient scoring night for him. He, however, made up for his tough shooting night by getting to — and succeeding from — the free throw line with 8-of-9 shooting on free throws.
Jan. 9: 120-105 loss at Atlanta Hawks
The result was ugly for Butler and the Bulls, but the loss at the Hawks further proved Butler’s ability to draw fouls.
Of the team-high 27 points Butler scored in Saturday’s loss, 10 of those points came from free throws. He missed two of his attempts in the matinee, but his 12 total attempts were far more than any other player in that game. Derrick Rose came the closest with his eight free throw attempts.
Rose returned from his three-game absence — he had hamstring tendinitis — during the Bulls’ win over the Bucks on Jan. 5. Prior to that, Rose was starting to look and play like his old self: the aggressive and speedy guard who became the NBA’s youngest MVP, and that was the Rose that showed up despite the time away from the hardwood, immediately scoring and attempting shots in double figures.
Ashley is the owner/editor of The Bulls Charge. Follow her on Twitter at @wijangco12.