With the 2022-23 NBA season just around the corner, experts, analysts and pundits alike are offering their expectations and predictions for what is to come in the latest chapter of NBA excitement.
After ESPN placed Miami Heat star Jimmy Butler outside of the top 10 in its player rankings, Butler’s agent Bernard Lee took to social media to crush the conclusion.
He specifically singled out ESPN insiders Zach Lowe and Brian Windhorst in his tweet.
Interestingly, neither Lowe nor Windhorst wrote the final conclusion regarding Butler. Instead, it was ESPN’s Nick Friedell.
“Swing skill: Toughness,” Friedell wrote to start out his analysis of Butler. “Butler’s career has been defined in part by his ability to perform at a high level no matter what lingering injury he is dealing with but at age 33 it remains to be seen if all the minutes he has logged since coming into the league in the 2011-12 season have taken a toll. Butler has played in just 109 out of a possible 154 games over the past two seasons.”
Friedell then wrote about a pressing concern for Butler in the upcoming season.
“One huge question for 2022-23: Can Butler come close to the postseason run he produced last season?” he wrote. “If one more 3-pointer had gone down late in Game 7 of the 2021 Eastern Conference finals, Butler likely would have carried the Heat to the Finals for the second time in three seasons. Butler polished off one of the strongest postseason runs in Heat history, averaging 27.4 points, 7.4 rebounds and 4.6 assists in 17 postseason games, including an unbelievable run in the ECF which featured a memorable 47-point, nine-rebound, eight-assist, four-steal performance in Game 6.”
Butler has proven time and time again to be one of the most dominant players in the NBA come playoff time, but that has not been enough to change minds around the NBA in terms of where he stands among other stars in the league.
In the 2022 NBA Playoffs, there were several games in which Butler really looked like the best player in the league. His performance in Game 6 of the 2022 Eastern Conference Finals, which was a do-or-die game for the Heat, was one for the ages.
Butler had three other games in last season’s playoffs in which he scored 40 or more points.
Still, the former first-round pick can’t seem to get the respect that his agent so clearly believes he deserves. Though there are many other great players in the NBA, it is a bit confusing to see names like Trae Young, Paul George, Damian Lillard and Karl-Anthony Towns higher up on the list than Butler.
Luckily, these rankings mean essentially nothing when it comes to what will actually take place in the upcoming season. Butler is in complete control when it comes to proving his doubters wrong and reminding them why he’s one of the best players in the game today.