The Miami Heat are depending on Jimmy Butler to not only be their star player, but also a leader on and off the court.
Luckily, early indications are pointing to the four-time All-Star’s intention to be just that.
In an article from Shandel Richardson of The Athletic, he details several clear signs that Butler is ready to pick up the mantle of team leader in South Florida.
“After a vacation that included stops in Brazil, Italy and Senegal, Butler was back in the gym with teammates in early September,” he wrote. “Early indications show he is already forming bonds and emerging as a leader. Then again, that was the case at his previous stops, too.”
As Richardson points out, this isn’t the first time that Butler has been tasked with being the veteran leader on a young and talented roster. The Minnesota Timberwolves traded for him in the summer of 2017 with the hopes that he would be able to maximize the talent of Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns.
His stint with the Timberwolves ended tumultuously, however, as Butler requested a trade after one season with the team.
That resulted in him joining the Philadelphia 76ers where he teamed up with All-Stars Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. While the trio enjoyed a fairly successful season that ended in a second-round playoff defeat at the hands of the eventual NBA champion Toronto Raptors, there were often rumblings of internal conflict in Philadelphia.
The hope in Miami is that the strong team culture fostered by team president Pat Riley and Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra will mesh perfectly with Butler’s insatiable competitive spirit. If all goes according to plan, it is likely that Butler will be tasked with helping players such as Bam Adebayo and Justise Winslow reach their full potential.
Despite potential concerns, it is a great sign that Butler is already looking to build a strong rapport with his teammates. Most notably so far, he has taken rookie Tyler Herro under his wing as the two have recently trained together in both Chicago and Miami.
As the team’s training camp nears, it won’t be much of a surprise to see Butler playing with more of his Heat teammates.
Hopefully, that hard work leads to a very successful 2019-20 campaign for the Heat.