Gilbert Arenas doesn’t think Jimmy Butler is a top-20 player even if he plays 65 games in the regular season'
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Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Former NBA guard Gilbert Arenas took a shot at Miami Heat star Jimmy Butler’s regular season play, claiming that he’s not a top-20 player in the NBA, even if he increased the number of games he played in the regular season.

This season, Butler appeared in just 60 games for the Heat during the regular season, which means he missed the NBA’s 65-game threshold that he needed to complete to be eligible for awards such as the league’s MVP, as well as an All-NBA nod this season.

“He’s not making All-NBA because he’s not even eligible for it without the 65 games,” Arenas said. “What happens when he’s eligible?”

Kenyon Martin then asked Arenas if Butler is a top-15 or top-20 player in the NBA if he plays 65 games during the regular season.

Arenas simply shook his head at the question and said, “Nah.”

Butler had a solid 2023-24 regular season, averaging 20.8 points, 5.3 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game while shooting 49.9 percent from the field and a career-high 41.4 percent from beyond the arc.

However, Butler averaged his fewest points per game since his first season in Miami (the 2019-20 campaign) when he averaged 19.9 points per game. He also was not named an All-Star during the 2023-24 season.

It’s possible that Butler’s numbers would have looked better if he appeared in more regular season games, but Heat fans know that Butler finds a different gear in the playoffs.

In five seasons with the Heat, Butler has led the team to three appearances in the Eastern Conference Finals and two appearances in the NBA Finals.

When talking about Butler’s next contract – or potential next contract – with the Heat, Arenas did give a nod to Butler’s alter ego of “Playoff Jimmy.”

“What happens during that contract year – like we know contract players come up – and he decides to bring Jimmy – Playoff Jimmy – into the regular season to get to the 65?” Arenas asked. “Now, I gotta pay him supermax.”

While Arenas may not believe that Butler’s regular season play in the 2023-24 campaign was worthy of a top-20 player nod, it’s clear he still has respect for what the Heat star can do in the playoffs.

After Butler went down in the play-in tournament against the Philadelphia 76ers, the Heat ended up losing in the first round of the playoffs this season to the Boston Celtics.

Hopefully, Butler can get healthy and lead the Heat on another run next season to prove that he’s one of the game’s top players.

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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.