“Jimmy is a terrific player and he does a lot for us,” said Thibodeau of Butler. “He’s an important part of winning.”
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images

Thibodeau likes direction Butler is heading

By Adam Fluck | 10.09.2014 | 4:50 p.m. CT | Archive | @AdamFluck 

Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau loves to stress the importance of practice. 

He believes that training camp, in particular, is especially significant as it prepares his team for the regular season. In Thibodeau’s mind, Jimmy Butler is living proof of that. 

Last fall in exhibition play, Butler collided with John Wall as the Bulls faced the Wizards in Brazil and suffered a bruised left knee. The injury kept him out of action for eleven days. Then, in November, a right toe injury sidelined Butler for 11 games. 

“I thought his defense was terrific and he did a lot of things that were good, but I never thought he found a rhythm,” said Thibodeau of Butler, who earned NBA All-Defensive Second Team honors last season. “That’s why it’s so important to practice and play and get yourself ready for the season. 

“The one thing about this year, he came back a lot lighter and in much better shape,” added Thibodeau of Butler. “He’s played very well in training camp.” 

Thibodeau likes the fact that Butler plays well off his teammates and having Derrick Rose back, along with the addition of Pau Gasol, should serve him well in that respect.

While Thibodeau sees Butler as being in a good rhythm early on, Taj Gibson is also confident Butler, who scored 18 points on seven-of-nine shooting Tuesday against Detroit, is ready to step up his game. 

“I think so,” said Gibson, who feels Butler was able to “free his mind” during the offseason. “It’s tough because he feels he can do more and we know he can do more. I’m expecting him to do more. I see his last game as a good sign for him and he’s just got to keep it going.”