After sustaining a knee injury in a game against Denver on Friday, Jimmy Butler was re-evaluated by team physician Brian Cole. Upon further examination, the all-star guard is expected to miss 3-4 weeks because of a strained left knee. Although his rehabbing is going great, Butler will sit out of Sunday’s All-Star Game. 

The Bulls season looks as if it’s beginning to unravel. While just barely above .500 (27-24) in Fred Hoiberg’s first season, they’ve lost their last three in a row and five of their last six overall. Butler has remained the one constant for Chicago, averaging career-highs in points per game (22.4) and assists per game (4.3), and having a career high PER (22.0). With Joakim Noah and Nikola Mirotic out with injuries, and Derrick Rose still struggling to find his rhythm, Butler has been asked to be the leader of the team on both sides of the court, and in the locker room. 

With Jimmy Butler on the court, the Bulls’ ORtg per 100 possessions jumps up by almost two points to 104.1; 102.5 when Butler’s off the court. On defense, their STL% and BLK% also increase, up 1.5% compared to when he’s off the court:

  • 6.6 STL% when on court, 5.1% when off
  • 9.2 BLK% when on court, 7.7% when off

Tony Snell and Doug McDermott should be expected to see more PT and become more productive on offense. Pau Gasol will now become the number one option, and E’Twaun Moore will continue to get extended minutes after averaging 13.2 points and shooting 49% over his last six games. 

If the Bulls falter over the next month, their season could very well be over. They have a 1.5 game lead over the ninth-place Charlotte Hornets, and their lead could evaporate as they face off against Atlanta, Cleveland, and Toronto in their next three games. 

*Data courtesy of Basketball-Reference*

*Photo credit: Isaiah J. Downing / USA TODAY Sports*