In any sport, the postseason is where the stars begin their inheritance. The NBA playoffs are no different. In the NBA, it is said that teams usually need a superstar or stars to compete for a championship. Jimmy Butler is the man for the Miami Heat, but he’s never been considered one of the upper echelons of NBA hoopers. This postseason, however, Butler may play the best ball of any remaining player. As great as Butler was in these playoffs, I think he’s the most underrated star still playing.
By advancing to the semifinals, seven of the eight teams had at least one player in the top 10 of the MVP poll. Miami was the only team where no player received an MVP vote. The Phoenix Suns had two in Chris Paul and Devin Booker. Butler has never been in the NBA top 10, but he has topped most of them in the first two rounds of the playoffs.
There just seems to be something about the playoffs that gets Butler going and going crazy. He already has two 40 point achievements in the postseason after going clean in 57 regular-season games. He increased his scoring average in the playoffs from 21.4 to 28.3 ppg. He’s averaging over 26 ppg in the series against Philadelphia that takes Miami to the Eastern Conference Finals.
Whenever the best players in the league are discussed, Butler’s name is never mentioned in the top 5 or 10. Most of the time he isn’t even mentioned in the top 15. Jimmy has played like a top 3 player this postseason and it would be hard to argue with that. He proved that again in Game 6 last night to defeat the 76ers in Philly, scoring a game-high 32 points in the 99-90 win. Even in games Miami has lost, Butler’s game has kept the Heat within striking distance.
In Game 4, Butler scored 40 points on an eight-point loss but got little to no help from his supporting cast. Butler did everything he could to keep Miami alive, and they were still at it.
Although Miami is No. 1 seed in the east, some thought Philadelphia would be able to handle them easily because Miami doesn’t have a “superstar”. Butler has shown that while he might not be considered at this level, if you look at James Harden, he’ll go up against anyone when his team needs him most.
Now that Butler and the Heat is back in the conference finals, maybe it’s time to reconsider how we view who is and isn’t a superstar. Anthony Davis was considered a top-flight talent for years before his move to Los Angeles and only led New Orleans out of the first round once during his time there. Butler has the Heat back in the ECF for the second time in three years. That sounds like great star power to me.