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Erik Spoelstra Gushes About Jimmy Butler, Explains Why He’s Definition of Max Player
- Updated: January 3, 2020
Butler has only connected on 25-of-67 (37.3 percent) from the field over his last five games and scored only eight points in a win over Toronto on Thursday night. Yet, Spoelstra still sees Butler as a role model for the Heat’s younger players when it comes to riding out such slumps.
“I think that is what young players should learn when they come into the league of what a max player actually means,” Spoelstra said. “It’s not about stats, it’s not about the final number in the box score or whatever 2K numbers you can get. It’s about how your team functions and if you are winning.”
Spoelstra also believes that Butler’s relentless drive allows him to stay focused on the game as a whole instead of dwelling on his own struggles.
“Jimmy can stay the course regardless of what’s happening during the course of the game,” Spoelstra said. “Shots don’t affect him whether the ball is going in or not, it doesn’t affect his energy, it doesn’t affect his leadership.
“He will find different ways to impact the game, if it means drawing a foul, getting a steal or deflection, or setting a screen for somebody else. He is like a five-tool baseball player, but for basketball. He does everything across the board to help you win.”
Perhaps Butler’s most glaring negative statistic is his 27.6 percent 3-point shooting average, the lowest since his rookie campaign. However, the number means nothing to Spoelstra, who is focusing only on Butler’s impact in helping the Heat in their strong start.
“There is no debate about this,” Spoelstra said. “Jimmy is having an incredible impact on our winning, our bottom line. That’s why we chased him as our max player. Too often it has become about stats even at a young age, but it’s empty stats that don’t impact winning.”
Butler and the Heat will forge ahead, with their first road contest in 2020 taking place in Orlando on Friday night. One thing that seems certain is that even if Butler remains in a slump for that game, he’ll still have Spoelstra in his corner.