This is Why Jimmy Butler is Mad

Copy of Bailey Howell (2).png

Jimmy Butler is mad, if you haven’t heard.

At the end of last season, Butler asked for a trade and it was not granted. He was made a prisoner by the powerful, invisible hand of GM Scott Layden.

Just before this season started, Butler informed Timberwolves management he would not be returning to the team via 2019 free agency and asked for a trade again.

Minnesota fielded offers from several teams, mainly the Miami Heat, progessing so far into trade talks that the teams were trading medical records of players to be traded. It was down to paperwork and formalities, but Pat Riley pulled out.

Now Jimmy is even more mad Minnesota can’t get a deal done. He’s boycotting training camp.

Then, one day, he shows up at practice.

Jimmy Butler, who has been boycotting the entire franchise, showed up to practice, swore at coaches and front office personnel, grabbed the third string, whipped the starters, and left.

I love the NBA.

Butler has beef with Towns and Wiggins. Minnesota’s young talent lacks gumption. Wiggins and KAT are considered soft, and that’s a huge part of why Butler was brought to the team in the first place. From Sporting News:

Sources familiar with the situation told Sporting News that Butler is uncertain about playing with Wiggins — Butler had problems last season with Wiggins, his work ethic and his approach on the defensive end of the floor. Thibodeau has had similar problems with Wiggins in the past, too, and he had some hope that bringing a tough-minded veteran like Butler into the locker room would spur Wiggins to improve. It didn’t.

Wiggins and Towns both come across as passive, happy-go-lucky dudes, far removed from whatever philosophy fuels the NBA alpha males. Jimmy is, without a doubt, one of the NBA’s alpha males.

There is a right and a wrong way to do everything. Yelling at KAT or Wiggins in practice is the wrong way. If Jimmy was brought in to be a leader, he can be as strong and demanding as he wants, but the second he crosses into demeaning, cutting, divisive language, he’s soiled his own nest.

I don’t want to condone the actions of a horrible teammate like Jimmy.

But I’ll be damned if Wiggins and Towns are not some of the most frustrating players on the planet.

I get the sense that most of Jimmy’s frustration is with KAT. KAT has said he cannot “co-exist” with Jimmy. Given their playing styles and personalities, that makes sense. Jimmy is a hard-nosed, 100% all the time guy. KAT does not fit that bill. For Jimmy to be brought in and put into a leadership role, how perturbed would a player of his mindset be with a lazy defender who has the tools, ability, and smarts to be better?

Towns apparently doesn’t like Butler, either. He told the Wolves he wouldn’t resign until the situation was resolved.

SI’s Andrew Sharp wrote:

Towns remains brilliant as a scorer, but even on that front, he was weirdly deferential in the playoffs, and it's not clear he makes his teammates better. There have been questions about his maturity, and now, with Butler rumors swirling, Towns might be pressuring the team to give away the best teammate he'll ever have in Minnesota. 

Jimmy’s reaction to his frustration is disappointing, but I know why he’s upset. Here’s what I mean.

Eye Test

Karl-Anthony Towns is about as strong as a meter of peanut brittle. Towns is pushed around a whole lot. When he gets bullied, usually without giving any sort of resistance, he becomes a pretty ineffective help defender.

I’m willing to be a bit more understanding since KAT is having to deal with Steven Adams. Then again, he’s about 2 feet away from meeting that shot at the rim, and he’s stopped by Adams’ arm, which can’t possibly have that much leverage on him. It looks like KAT isn’t even trying.

Adams boxes him out, but KAT has more than enough time on this play to be in the correct spot. It isn’t excusable.

I think Jokic gets surprised on this play. Do you see that little hitch in his baby drop step after his initial bodying of KAT? I think he felt how much space KAT game him and was caught off guard.

Jokic is a big boy, but he’s not any stronger than the average NBA center. This is weird. KAT has the position here. He lets Jokic, a big soft boy, push him around then makes a half-hearted effort to recover. It’s sad.

Your defensive ability doubles when you use your hands and arms. KAT uses neither.

Nurkic is deep enough on the block that KAT could’ve taken a hard dig down and thrown both of his hands straight into the air to contest this shot. It’s remarkable he doesn’t. He doesn’t put his hands up. This is an effort problem.

Also, KAT can see that Taj Gibson is coming into the lane. That gives KAT the freedom to scoot to his left and actually defend the pick and roll. There’s so many horrible things going on here.

Hey, if you are going to use your arms, why use your legs too?

There’s a point in this clip where KAT literally quits moving his feet over. All he needed was one more step.

Halfway through Lopez’s turn, KAT should be able to see and feel that Lopez is dropping very low toward the baseline. He should’ve seen or felt the size of Lopez’s drop step and been there. This is not difficult.

Side note: Lopez opened this game with 16 straight points on KAT.

One more gif.

For the life of me, I cannot figure out what KAT was doing on this play. He sees the offensive rebound, then runs toward the baseline.

Please watch this and meditate on it. It looks like KAT is a saboteur.

Here are some more really great clips I found of KAT whiffing on defense:

The eye test says he’s a bad defender, and so do the numbers.

Last season, on shots KAT defended within 10 feet of the rim, opponents shot 57%. On shots within 6 feet, 61%. That’s really bad. League average field goal percentage has hovered around 45% for the last 15 years. In a vacuum, that means that giving the ball to the person KAT is guarding every single play is a winning strategy.

Towns’ defensive rating last year was 108.4, and it was even worse in years past.

Towns' had .085 defensive win shares last year, which was good for 142nd in the league. Womp womp.

Towns is a generation offensive talent. He has size, speed, and touch. He can score any way he wants. He’s a turnstile on defense. The real problem here is that no one has ever accused Towns of lacking physical tools, which must mean that his defensive issues are mostly matters of will and effort. That’s beyond frustrating because it’s a easy fix: trying.

KAT could stand to benefit from a focused strength training regimen, as he’s obviously weaker than many of his opponents. But trying on defense goes a long way. At least, much further than he is now.

Reid Belew