Max Strus campaigns for Jimmy Butler to get MVP votes'
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Miami Heat sharpshooter Max Strus believes his teammate Jimmy Butler deserves to get MVP votes for his impressive play this season.

“Jimmy’s going to keep doing what he’s been doing all year,” Strus said. “It’s crazy that nobody is talking about him being an MVP with his numbers and what he’s done for our team this year. He’s been spectacular.”

Butler has played extremely well for the Heat this season, but it wasn’t enough to get the team out of the play-in tournament field in the Eastern Conference. Miami finished the regular season with the No. 7 seed in the East and will take on the No. 8-seeded Atlanta Hawks in the play-in tournament on Tuesday night.

With a win, the Heat would secure the No. 7 seed and face the Boston Celtics in the first round of the playoffs. If the team loses, it will have another chance to get in the postseason by playing the winner of the play-in matchup between the Chicago Bulls and Toronto Raptors for the No. 8 seed.

In 64 games this season, Butler is averaging 22.9 points, 5.9 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game while shooting 53.9 percent from the field and 35.0 percent from beyond the arc.

While Strus is correct about Butler’s impact on the Heat (he leads the team with 12.3 win shares this season), it’s hard to make a case for Butler against MVP candidates like Nikola Jokic, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Joel Embiid.

Jokic and Antetokounmpo both led their teams to the No. 1 seed in their respective conferences this season. Embiid, who led the NBA in points per game in the regular season, also led the Philadelphia 76ers to the No. 3 seed in the East.

Butler’s numbers are solid, but Embiid averaged 33.1 points and 10.2 rebounds per game in the regular season and Jokic was 0.2 assists per game away from averaging a triple-double in the regular season.

If the Heat had finished with a better seed, there may be more of a push for Butler to receive votes for the league’s MVP award.

Even though he likely won’t get many votes this season, Butler can show how valuable he is by leading Miami on yet another deep playoff run this season. The Heat made the Eastern Conference Finals in two of Butler’s first three seasons with the franchise.

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Peter is a graduate of Quinnipiac University where he covered the MAAC and college basketball for three years. He has worked for NBC Sports, the Connecticut Sun and the Meriden Record-Journal covering basketball and other major sports. Follow him on Twitter @peterdewey2.