Up until this year, Jimmy Butler looked like he was always going to be a Wesley Johnson–Iman Shumpert type of wing. Can get you 13-15 points on a good night, hits a few three balls, shoots crappy from the field and nabs a few steals here and there.
His improvement was steady over his first three seasons, but heading into this year’s fantasy drafts, the thought going through most people’s minds was: This guy’s a sleeper, sure, but Derrick Rose is coming back. If Rose is finally healthy, Butler is a non-factor, and even if he isn’t, we’re not missing out on much.
Right here I instruct you to crank up the volume on your device/computer as loud as you can and click on this link.
Butler came into Friday’s tilt against the Blazers with a string of four straight games where he topped 20, including a 32-point explosion against the Pacers. I’m singling out that Blazers game as a caveat, as Da Bulls entered Portland with no Rose, no Pau Gasol, no Kirk Hinrich and no chance of winning. Butler, who had nine points on 3-13 shooting, joined his teammates in chucking up prayers to try and stay in the game, and almost none of those prayers were answered.
I will say this. The Portland game does expose Butler as a guy who cannot carry a real NBA team. In other words, he is not a healthy Derrick Rose in Derrick Rose’s prime. I think Butler’s value is intrinsically tied to the health of this squad. If, for example, Gasol is healthy, but Rose isn’t, Butler is very valuable. If both are healthy, still valuable, but not as much. If neither is healthy, he will be up and down, struggling against good teams, dominating bad ones.
Long-term, I see a sell-high wing. Yeah, it’ll taste good right now, but later tonight, your significant other will be relegating you to sleeping on the couch. And it won’t be because you snore.
Still hungry? Order up one of these flavors:
Andrew Wiggins – The Wiggins Wing Watch continues. Thaddeus Young’s extended absence has set some things in motion in Minny: Anthony Bennett has been playing well in Young’s starting PF slot, and Wiggins has begun to blossom as the go-to guy in the starting SF spot. But what about when Young comes back? Is Flip Saunders that dumb to start Mo Williams and Corey Brewer and push two of those three guys to the bench? Is it true that Cherokee Parks is hiding under Flip Saunders’ toupee? Most importantly, and relevantly, if Flip does the right thing, and goes with a lineup where Bennett is the starting PF, Young is the SF, and Wiggins is the SG, will Yahoo and ESPN then give Wiggins the coveted G-F designation, thereby anointing him a wing? Still just a drumstick.
Danny Green – It was only a matter of time before Green finally ate up all of Marco Belinelli’s minutes. The dude has been making everything in sight lately, including a sploogefest against Brooklyn where he shot 8-10 from the field and 5-7 from three-point land, good for 21 points to go along with seven boards and three blocks. Ass-kickin’ Wing.
DeAndre Liggins – Each year, the NBA Developmental League becomes more and more relevant to fantasy, as teams are calling up players from their affiliates and acquiring players from teams in other cities. This year, for example, you should be keeping an eye on the Delaware 87ers, the Sixers’ D-League affiliate, because it’s likely every player on the team will see time at the NBA level. Not sure if the Sixers will be able to land Liggins, a 6-6 wing on the Sioux Falls Skyforce (a Miami Heat affiliate), but I’m sure he’s on Sam Hinkie’s radar. The scouting report says that Liggins is definitely an NBA talent, but is not putting it all together mentally just yet. Yep, perfect for the Sixers. Wing that’s still on the live chicken.
Giannis Antetokounmpo – Big fantasy doings in Brew Town. Owners have been salivating over this guy – and drooling and stuttering in an attempt to say his same – ever since he was drafted with the 15th pick by the Bucks in the 2013 draft. The Alphabet is super-athletic, fast, has multi-cat ability and up until now has embodied Jay Bilas’ favorite term: Upside. No more. The upside appears to be here, as Giannis responded to his promotion to the starting lineup with two great games out of three. He put up 18 points, 12 rebounds, four assists and three steals in a 3OT win against Brooklyn; and 20 points, four boards, five assists and three blocks in a loss Saturday to the Wizards. Wing with Feta cheese on the side.
Gordon Hayward – Here we go again. He had games of 12, 13 and 12 points before busting out for 31 against the Pelicans Saturday on 9-16 from the field and 11-14 from the charity stripe. I’d like to hear from owners in the comments section: Are you frustrated with Hayward or happy? I’m just curious. Mystery Flavored Wing.
Kevin Martin – Gone for at least six weeks with a wrist fracture. Wasn’t there some a-hole fantasy writer who told you to flip Klay Thompson and go with the off-brand wing, aka Kevin Martin? Oh yeah – that was me. I’m sorry! It was a freak injury, OK? I’ll make it up to you. I sort of promise. Wing that fell on the floor.
Sick Grizzlies – Opportunity knocked in the form of puking and liquid turds last week in Memphis, as multiple guys went down with a contagious illness and made scrubs like Quincy Pondexter very fantasy relevant. But now, with everyone healthy, we’ve got a logjam, where you’ve got Tony Allen, Pondexter, Vince Carter and Courtney Lee clogging up the wing spot. Salmonella wing.
The Wings of OKC – Jeremy Lamb, Anthony Morrow, Andre Roberson, Lance Thomas. The Thunder have tried all kinds of combinations to fill the void of those two big injuries, and while the patchwork approach has worked in real life on a game-to-game basis, the overcrowding of the wing position (only matched by the above Griz and Doug Collins-era Sixers) is making it unsavory for fantasy purposes (at least in normal leagues; in deep leagues, dig in). Wing variety bucket, where all the sauces meld together and end up tasting funky.
Wesley Johnson – I ripped on Wesley Johnson last week, but did you see his stuff on poor Danilo Gallinari last night? Hey, no one’s ever questioned Wes’ athletic ability, or his ability to file numbers in various categories on the stat sheet. The 12 boards against Denver Sunday night were nice, but he hasn’t hit a three-ball, or scored in double digits, since Nov. 12. Ew! Wing from the supermarket deli.
Wilson Chandler – Speaking of Gallinari, Nuggets coach Brian Shaw seems to actually be doing something right: Using Danilo as a prop to get Chandler to play harder. The Mad Scientist of the Mile High City says the starting SF slot is up for grabs between the two of them. And, yeah, Gallinari has started to come on, but come on man. Over his last four games, Chandler is averaging 17.5 ppg and 7.8 rpg, and he bombed the Lakers on Sunday on 5-11 three-point bombs. Jalapeno-Cheddar Wing.