Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler played like a Top 10 NBA player during last year's playoffs.
It still wasn't enough to earn him a preseason spot among the best 10 players. ESPN released the No. 11-25 portion of its Top 100 players rankings Wednesday morning.
Butler checked in at No. 17, just ahead of Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert. Here's what ESPN's Nick Friedel wrote about Butler.
"Toughness. Butler's career has been defined in part by his ability to perform at a high level no matter what lingering injury he is dealing with but at age 33 it remains to be seen if all the minutes he has logged since coming into the league in the 2011-12 season have taken a toll. Butler has played in just 109 out of a possible 154 games over the past two seasons."
Friedel make strong points. Butler has a lot of mileage and his game may have peaked last season. Still, after watching last year's Eastern Conference finals against the Boston Celtics, it would be hard to name 10 players better.
Guess this will serve as another of Butler proving the doubters wrong.
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Shandel Richardson is the Miami Heat writer for Inside The Heat. He can also be read in the Sportsbook Review for gambling coverage from around the NBA.