Veteran scout says Jimmy Butler’s 2023 playoff run has taken him from top 20 to top 10 of NBA

3 Min Read

Jimmy Butler’s status among the NBA’s best players has grown substantially during the Miami Heat’s unexpected journey to the NBA Finals, with one veteran scout now placing him in the top 10.

“Before this run, I would have said he’s a top 20 player in the league,” the scout told the Miami Herald. “He’s got to be top 10. His competitiveness is top three, the will to win is All NBA quality. And he does it when it counts. A little surprised where he has gotten them. His record speaks for itself.”

The scout was speaking before Miami opened the Finals with a Game 1 loss to the Denver Nuggets. Butler managed only 13 points, his lowest output in these playoffs, in the 104-93 defeat.

The 33-year-old was recently named Eastern Conference Finals MVP due to his play in Miami’s seven-game series against the Boston Celtics. His 28 points in the clinching win certainly helped the Heat seal the deal.

He averaged an incredible 37.6 points per game in the first round against the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks. That included 56 points in a Game 4 win that prevented the Bucks from squaring the series. He added 42 points in Game 5 to help Miami clinch the best-of-seven affair.

The six-time All-Star averaged 24.6 points per game against the New York Knicks in the second round and 24.7 points per game against the Celtics. In the conference finals, Butler made sure Miami avoided becoming the first NBA team to lose a best-of-seven series after winning the first three games.

If he can now somehow get the Heat all the way to the NBA championship, his status might grow even more. But the Heat, who had won Game 1 on the road in each prior series this postseason, are facing a daunting task against the Nuggets with Game 2 set for Sunday night.

Denver has not lost at home in these playoffs, going 9-0 at Ball Arena. Led by Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray, the Nuggets have won seven games in a row overall, including a sweep of the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference Finals.

Butler must figure out how to deal with the defense played against him by Aaron Gordon. That is likely to include more drives to the basket after Miami took a record-low two free throws in Game 1.

The Heat are expecting a bounce-back performance from their emotional leader, who has certainly proven worthy of all the praise he has been given during the 2023 postseason.

Share This Article
Mike is a veteran journalist who has covered the NBA for almost three decades. His introduction to the business included the legendary Heat-Knicks rivalry from the 1990s.