Without question, there were multiple heroes during the Miami Heat‘s second-round ouster of the Philadelphia 76ers. To name a just few, there was Max Strus with his 20-point, 11-rebound, five-assists effort during the decisive Game 6, and Bam Adebayo dropping a 23-9-3 line in Game 2.
However, Jimmy Butler’s performance throughout the series (and, really, the playoffs as a whole) has been one of the better postseason efforts in franchise history.
Over six games against Philly, Butler averaged a team-best 27.5 points per outing while adding 7.5 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 1.7 steals. He also connected on 51.3% of his shot attempts, including a very un-Butler-like 32.1% from three-point range.
His presence loomed so large over the series, in fact, that some hoop pundits have started to rethink their hot takes on whether or not Butler is a bona fide NBA superstar.
Redick Endorses His Former Teammate as a Superstar
In the wake of the Boston Celtics’ Game 7 win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Sunday, former baller JJ Redick — an ex-teammate of Butler in Philly — previewed the Cs’ forthcoming conference finals series against Miami. In doing so, he made a point to address an old debate about Butler’s place in the league hierarchy.
“I think the big takeaway so far in these first two rounds of the playoffs is Jimmy Butler as a superstar,” Redick said.
“Because he doesn’t, on a night to night basis need to — for that team — need to put up insane counting stats, I feel like we, collectively, in the NBA world, we tend to overlook him a little bit in terms of just how valuable he is once we get to the playoffs.”
While Butler’s recent performance speaks for itself, Redick also cited the Heat cornerstone’s exploits during the 2020 bubble playoffs and, more specifically, what he did against LeBron James and the Lakers in the Finals as further proof of his superstar status.
“We saw him in 2020 go shot-for-shot, at times, with LeBron in the Finals. He took that team to the Finals. So, we are huge Jimmy Butler fans here. I think, sometimes, we do forget just where he is in the hierarchy of NBA players and he’s elite.”
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The Mid-Range Maestro
Although Butler’s detractors have pointed to his over-reliance on the in-between game as a mark against his superstar case, Redick believes that his ability to generate points from the mid-range actually makes him a more valuable postseason player.
“Yeah, I did the game with Mark Jones on Thursday in Dallas… and Mark used the phrase, ‘the mid-range is where the magic happens in the playoffs,’ and I think there’s really some truth to that,” Redick said. “You just need these guys that can get their shots in the mid-range and Jimmy’s one of those guys.”
Redick further raved about Butler’s defensive impact, something that he feels is underreported.
“We also tend to talk about him as a two-way player but, you know, there’s a bunch of different advanced metrics for guys and they generally tend to favor guys that rebound the ball… but Jimmy, sometimes, I feel gets overlooked to how good he is defensively because he’s a wing and those rebound numbers aren’t what they are,” he said.
“When we look at defensive field goal percentage when he’s guarding a guy, his deflections, his steals… he’s phenomenal on that end of the court.”