Where the Heat's Jimmy Butler ranks among the top players in Orlando

Shandel Richardson

Guard Jimmy Butler has made a smooth transition in his first season with the Miami Heat.

He's been a leader, mentor and solid teammate in leading the Heat to a 41-24 as the league prepares for a restart later this month. Butler was always considered a consensus Top 20 player but his value may have increased after such a strong showing in Miami.

SI.com's Michael Shapiro recently ranked the best 25 players remaining in the NBA "bubble" in Orlando, with Butler checking in at No. 12.

"Jimmy Butler’s multi-year odyssey landed him in Miami, and it’s been largely a seamless fit alongside Erik Spoelstra and an impressive cast of youngsters in 2019-20," Shapiro wrote. "Butler is a defensive tone setter and primary ball handler for the Heat, though Kendrick Nunn, Goran Dragic and even Bam Adebayo have been effective in dampening Butler’s playmaking load. Butler is more than comfortable raising to the occasion as a crunch-time scorer (seizing the role over Simmons and Joel Embiid last season) and the Marquette product excels at drawing contact late in games. Miami has a true leading man for the postseason."

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James topped the list, followed by Kawhi Leonard (Los Angeles Clippers), Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks), James Harden (Houston Rockets) and Anthony Davis (Lakers). Other notables ahead of Butler were Luka Doncic (Dallas Mavericks), Joel Embiid (Philadelphia 76ers) and Russell Westbrook (Rockets).

As Shapiro notes, the knock on Butler is his inconsistent jumper. He is shooting just 24 percent from the 3-point line.

"Teams are sagging off him as though this extended cold stretch is more than a fluke," Shapiro wrote. "Butler will need to find his three-point stroke for Miami to make noise in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

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