The Jimmy Butler Affect

We sit here in an NBA hiatus missing the game and wondering when it’s going to come back. What we don’t realize is that players are built differently. Think about this for a second … If everyone shared the same mind set and outlook on the game like Jimmy Butler, chills would run down my spine.

Butler is known for his “tell it like it is” attitude and many disagree. Why? Because he’s outspoken? Wants the best for himself and his team? Everyone views him as an “asshole“, but all I see is a player who wants to be the best he can be and be of value to his team and organization. After spending six years in Chicago made a lot of people think that Butler was the next franchise centerpiece when Rose left and ultimately thought the Bulls would prevail with offense centered around Butler, but they chose a different direction as the Bulls traded Butler and their 16th pick for Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and the seventh pick. 

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Butler was comfortable in Chicago and loved the system under Tom Thibodeau who coached the Bulls from 2010-2015. Needless to say after he was dealt to Minnesota he experienced some growing pains. Butler’s been used to a “work hard” type of environment where there’s no excuses for a poor work ethic but he didn’t get that with Minnesota. A bunch of young arrogant talent in his eyes and when he spoke up people didn’t agree.

One thing many fail to understand is that Butler isn’t afraid to call out people. That’s what happened in Minnesota where he called out The majority of the team which led to total chaos.

I can understand where he’s coming from because of the way everything ended. It takes a lot of courage to stand alone on doing the right thing, but at the end of the day all he wanted to do is win and work hard. Something you would dream of in a player.


On the contrary, the same issues followed him to Philly. Via the JJ Redick Podcast, Butler explains how nothing was ever done behind the scenes in Philly. Where people were scared to step up and be that “bad guy” as Butler mentioned many times. This opens up a much bigger issue. Is Butler looked at as a radical these days because it isn’t the norm to speak your mind behind closed doors? I mean many people do in front of cameras, but how much of that is actually true?

Even though he made a deeper run with Philly he still expressed the same conflicts, but in a different light. Minnesota was more of an arrogant, young core who never knew what the playoffs tasted like and Philly is more of a young, inexperienced, and immature group who can’t get over that hump. Essentially the 76ers are the modern day Clippers without the slogans.

AP Images

For me, Philly needed Butler. Especially in the locker room. His mindset, attention to detail, and the overall willingness to better himself on and off the court are qualities I think every player in the NBA should mirror. After the shot by Leonard (that eliminated the Sixers from the playoffs) the first question that popped in my mind was, “ will Butler return next season”? 

When Butler got to Miami it was the perfect fit. Miami has always been a beautifully run franchise and Pat Riley puts a lot of emphasis on winning now and ability to get out and work hard everyday. Butler fell right in line. The Heat have the fourth best record in the East (41-24) and Butler is averaging 20.2 ppg 6.6 rpg and 6.1 apg his best season he’s had in awhile and career highs in assists and rebounds. 

Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Eight guys averaging double digits, a solid core of well-rounded players, and a seasoned vet in Andre Iguodala; their deep playoff run doesn’t seem like a reach. Before Butler got there the Heat finished with a 39-43 record, the ball wasn’t moving around, and the uncertainty of where Whiteside would go wasn’t helping. Since then the Heat have surpassed last year’s win total (41), gutted nearly their whole roster, brought in Butler, Herro, Iggy, Nunn, Crowder, and Meyers, and have been on a tear up until the hiatus. 

The Heat needed a leader and they found one in Butler 



Green Light Lonzo

Lonzo Ball has a jump shot! No, this isn’t a pre-April fools article. No, this isn’t an alternate dimension. And NO, I am not Lavar Ball. I am just a basketball fan who has started to notice something. When Lonzo first came into the league, his shot was awful. He could make some, but realistically, NBA defenders don’t give you that much space. If you are not accustomed to shooting contested jumpers, you will struggle in the league (not that I’d actually know, but I’ve played enough ball to understand).

Lonzo’s perimeter shooting has been outright impressive this season. He has grown from the kid who couldn’t shoot, to a legitimate NBA three-point shooter. He’s already at his career highs in threes made and attempted … and Lonzo’s percentage has jumped up to 38.3% (53rd in the league). At home, Lonzo turns it up a notch and his percentage jumps to 41.6% from three! Lonzo still shoots 35% on the road, so it’s not like he is 2018 Lonzo away from New Orleans.


*through 3/9/20

Lonzo is also off to a fantastic start to the month of March. Zo is shooting 51% from three in five games this month, averaging 4.4 threes a game. Not attempts. Makes. Lonzo Ball is making five 3-pointers a game! Somewhere, Lavar Ball is screaming “I told you so!”. Not only is Lonzo shooting the ball better, he is healthy and playing consistent basketball. Those two have to go hand-in-hand. If you’re not healthy, you can’t get into a rhythm.

Oct ’19522/53.41512/32.375
Nov ’19624/66.36412/38.316
Dec ’191559/155.38133/88.375
Jan ’201578/193.40439/107.364
Feb ’201038/90.42221/55.382
Mar ’20538/71.53522/43.512

Of course, Lonzo’s goofy-ass father made waves as he said the Lakers would lose to the Pelicans in the playoffs (if they met) because we haven’t seen “Playoff Lonzo”. While it might not be the player Lavar sees when he closes his eyes, I would really like to see “Playoff Lonzo” as well. I always thought he was a special player and despite how he is viewed in Los Angeles, I feel he still is.

I realize that in order to get talent you have to give some up … and the Pelicans have two future stars in Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram. BI is already an All-Star, Zion will undoubtedly get there next year (he’s too popular … I mean I’d vote for him #voteforzion), and if Lonzo plays like this, he has a shot. It’s a long shot, but just imagine the alley-oops passes Lonzo will throw in an All-Star game. I mean, look what he is doing with Zion in the Big Easy.

Okay, before I sound even more like Lavar, I do need to criticize his free throw shooting, which is awful. It’s not the 41% it was last season, but 52.3% is down right embarrassing. Lonzo still only averages 1 free throw attempt per game and do you blame him? If Lonzo can get that shooting up to 70%, that’s 2-4 more points per game and will him even more valuable in clutch situations.

It seems Lonzo has found his shot, maybe one day we will see him in the 3-point contest.


This Is a Lakers Town

Every game at Staples is a home game

Jared Dudley

This was the match-up we’ve been waiting for. The two best teams in the west, who not only play in the same city, but in the same arena, were both at full strength as they battled it out on the Staples Center floor. While the world is focused on the coronavirus and COVID-19 (as we should be), we were all distracted for a few hours with some great, prime-time basketball.

Ever since the Lakers acquired Anthony Davis and the Clippers got Kawhi and PG, we all knew that each match-up would be prime-time, must-see-TV. The Lakers were looking for their first win against the Clippers this season after losing on opening day AND on Christmas day. Now, we all know that this is just the regular season, but it’s not a good look getting swept by a team that is beneath you in the standings.

The talent on display yesterday was amazing. You have three of the top-five players in the league on the floor at the same time (Caruso, Pat Bev, and Kuzma …. 😂!) with LeBron, AD, and Kawhi, and you can argue that Paul George is top-10 (I think he’s top 20 … sorry, health matters). It was clear that these are the two best teams in the Western Conference, as if you needed any more evidence.

The Lakers were down at the half but stormed back in the 3rd, which has been their thing as of late. The 2nd half of this game was exhilarating to watch and all of us watching had the same thought “Can we please have a best-of-seven series with the Lakers and Clippers? Please and thank you!”. For the Clippers, Paul George was spectacular in the first half but slowed down as the game progressed (in typical PG fashion). Kawhi had zero assists for the first time all season, so I expect that to change if these teams meet again.

The real star of this game was LeBron James. Sure, Anthony Davis finished with more points, but LeBron has his fingerprints ALL OVER this statement win. Lebron finished the game with 28 points (7-17 shooting), 9 assists and 7 rebounds. He also shot 12-14 from the free-throw line, which was huge as LeBron is not the best FT shooter. When the game was on the line, the ball is in LeBron’s hands and when LeBron is off the court, the Lakers look like the Pelicans last year (without Jrue).

When LeBron was icing the game at the free-throw line, guess what the crowd was chanting? That’s right.


Jared Dudley said it best …. “every game at Staples is a home game”. And he’s right. Staples Center was built to house multiple teams, but it is the Lakers home. Outside, the Lakers built statues of their past champions. Inside, the Lakers have banners and retired jerseys. That history is not forgotten when the Clippers cover them up. The statues are still present when there is Clippers marketing material all around Staples for a Clippers “home game”.

The Clippers are a great team. However, they’re the 2nd best team in LA and this will always be a Lakers town.


The Thunder Exceeding Expectations

I was one of the many people that said before the season started that believed the Oklahoma City Thunder would be a bad team. I remember putting them in the conversation for one of the worst teams in the west. The Thunder are now sitting with a 39-24 record, and they are in the 6th seed in the loaded western conference. As one who wrote them off in October, I have certainly been surprised by their performance as well as many other NBA fans.  

After losing both Paul George and Russell Westbrook via trade in the off-season, it was expected that a rebuilding period in OKC was about to commence after several years of being a conference powerhouse, so what has led to them remaining afloat?  

Chris Paul is a huge reason for the Thunder’s shocking success. The 34-year-old point guard was expected to regress this season, but he has established himself as a player that still deserves to be in the star conversation. Paul was named an All-Star this year and is averaging 17.5 points and 6.8 assists per game this year. He has also shown that he can still be a great leader, as he is helping guide such a young team to success.   

Paul has also been able to play alongside Shai Gilegous-Alexander in the backcourt. Shai has flourished in his second season and will have his name in All-Star conversations very soon. These two guards play very well together and can share the workload in a balanced offense.  

Danilo Gallinari was acquired along with Shai in return for Paul George this summer. Gallinari is finally becoming more consistently healthy and is helping the team stretch the floor and be a player that can knock down the open shot, and still work to get a bucket every now and then.

The Thunder have a bunch of solid role players on their roster that all play their part and fit into the puzzle of success. As a backup point guard, Dennis Shroder has been one of the best bench players in the league. Center Steven Adams is continuing to be a dominant force inside, and Nerlens Noel is also finding a good place in OKC, and he is getting comfortable in this system. Young wings like Luguentz Dort, Terrance Ferguson, Hamidou Diallo, and Abdel Nader have all played significant minutes this season and help the team gel on both sides of the ball. 

So the Thunder are really good, but they have no superstar talent. Maybe a loaded roster isn’t the modern recipe for success as much as we think. Solid players in a good system can be equally as dangerous. 

  • Kevin Barnett

Instagram @nolimit_kb

NBA Recommends That Players Disengage with Fans due to CoronaVirus

The CoronaVirus has spread across the entire globe and is causing all sorts of panic. To anyone who doesn’t know what the virus is they are a group of viruses that cause diseases in mammals and birds. In humans, coronaviruses cause respiratory tract infections that are typically mild, such as the common cold, though rarer forms such as SARS, MERS, and COVID-19 can be lethal. (World Health Organization) On  Sunday, an announcement was released by the NBA regarding players to stay away from any hand to hand contact or engagement with fans. This includes high fives, autographs, etc. causing an uproar from the NBA’s fan base.

Ultimately, people need to look at this at a deeper level and respect the fact that Adam Silver and NBA executives are concerned for the safety of its players. Among many things, Silver has made great strides to make the NBA a better and more efficient league. According to CBS Sports, cases of the virus in North America have been minimal. The bigger issue at hand is the impact of the disease on foreign countries that the NBA scouts players year round. I can understand this because prospects overseas usually visit and work out with teams before the draft and it starts around this time of year. 

I would suppose once the issue resolved itself that this recommendation will be lifted and things will go back to normal. From a fan standpoint it is disappointing when we work those extra hours and drive that extra distance to see the LeBron’s and Giannis of the league and to be limited to not even getting a high five or an autograph, but from face value I think any NBA fanatic would understand the bigger picture.