Culture of Hoops

Are Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler the NBA’s Best Backcourt?

The Chicago Bulls may have the best frontcourt in the league with Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah, but what about the backcourt? Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler seem to be a match made in basketball heaven if all goes well in Chicago. This may be the Bulls’ comeback season, and Butler and Rose could make up the horns that lead the stampede.

Sure, there are the health issues, but as Rose is healthy right now, the Bulls have quick, strong, and rugged starting guards that will be a handful for many opposing teams. The only backcourt in true contention with Rose and Butler are Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson of the Golden State Warriors. Curry and Thompson make up probably the most offensively productive backcourt in the league; however, in terms of versatility and being efficient on both ends of the court, Rose and Butler take the cake.

There’s no denying that Butler is probably one of the best defenders in the league today, especially at the guard position. However, his offensive output was a bit lackluster last season. He only managed to shoot a dismal 39.7 percent from the floor and 28.3 percent from beyond the arc. This is due to his inability to create his own shots and his limited offensive skills last season. He definitely makes up for it with his hustle and his ability to give the league’s premiere players some offensive woes, including LeBron James.

Butler will not be playing a typical shooting guard role. Sure, he is practicing his shot so that he can bump that percentage up, but with this current Bulls squad there will be much better offensive spacing with Rose back and Gasol on the floor. He’s been looking pretty good in the preseason, including having a 29-point game, hitting 8-of-14 from the floor. Then again, there’s a difference between preseason and regular season basketball. Nonetheless, he still looks like he’s improved on the offensive end, and fans are all smiles.

“Jimmy has grown,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau told’s Steve Aschburner. “He’s more a scorer than to characterize him as a straight shooter. He’s an all-around scorer. He’ll find ways to put the ball in the basket.”

Rose is slowly, but surely, going back to slicing and dicing the NBA hardwood. Last season, the anticipated Butler and Rose one-two punch fizzled out once Rose went down; however, it’s starting to heat up again. They complement each other in that Rose is better offensively—not saying that he isn’t capable of playing defense—and Butler is more comfortable on the defensive end. Butler’s defensive capabilities are a benefit to Rose, and Rose’s vision and magnetic attraction of defenders will allow Butler to grab some space for his offense to flourish. Not to mention, Butler is athletic enough to keep up with the speed of Rose, making the game a blur for the opposing team when appropriate. Butler has the ability and athleticism to be a slasher in the game, and once he gets a feel for it, he’ll be able to catch some dimes from Rose that will lead him to explode to the basket.

Now, the other thing about this backcourt is the clutch factor that the two men possess; one proven and one potential. Butler is untested, sure, but he did hit a game-winning three-pointer in the preseason against the Atlanta Hawks and that could be a preview to what he’s capable of. Of course, we all know that Rose doesn’t shy away from the moment, and is solid in the clutch. If both your guards are solid options when the game comes down to the wire, it spreads out the floor more for better opportunities. In other words, with more guns loaded, that haymaker to win it all can come from anywhere.

They may not be the best backcourt yet in the NBA, because, well, the season hasn’t even started yet. What they do have right now is this: potential. If they happen to click, and stay healthy of course, the Bulls’ horns may be Hattori Hanzo sharp.

Featured image courtesy of Tony B/Flickr.

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