Jimmy Butler is not, by nature, an especially aggressive player. When he joined the Miami Heat for the 2019-20 season, he didn’t even lead the team in shot attempts. That honor belonged to undrafted rookie Kendrick Nunn. The 13.1 attempts he did take per game matched the total that his predecessor as the face of the Heat franchise — Dwyane Wade — took as a rookie in the 2003-04 season. The Heat have been tremendously successful with Butler by running Erik Spoelstra’s equal-opportunity offense. Entering this season, there was no reason to believe that was going to change.
The Heat did, after all, give Kyle Lowry a hefty three-year, $85 million deal. They re-signed Duncan Robinson for five years as well. Tyler Herro is well on his way to a bounce-back year after disappointing as a sophomore last season, and much to the delight of the organization after steadily pushing him to be more assertive, Bam Adebayo is averaging a career-high 20.6 points per game. That’s a lot of mouths to feed, but through six games, Butler is eating more than ever.
In those six games, Butler is averaging career highs in both points (25.3) and field goal attempts (17). He’s shooting a career-best 52.9 percent from the field and 89.1 percent from the line. As the entire basketball world around him struggles to draw fouls with the league’s updated rules on offensive players initiating contact, Butler’s 7.7 free throw attempts per game are fourth in all of basketball and first among non-big men. He’s getting to the basket more at the age of 32 than he ever has. Not only are his 7.3 shots per game in the restricted area a new career high, but it currently places him in a tie for sixth place in all of basketball