There, I said it. I’m sorry, everyone, but it’s true.
Butler is running away with the award, and it’s only January. He’s running away with it like Secretariat at the Alameda County Derby. He’s running away with it like John Dillinger in a 1930s bank.
It’s really not fair.
Like, how am I supposed to make this column interesting when this guy is going out there and putting up 20.6 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists per game, up from 13, 5 and 2 last season?
How am I supposed to make pithy jokes about donut races, Seinfeld or Mike Francesa when one dude is just dominating the competition, making my entire column look stupid and sending me out onto the back porch at night, to gaze up at the stars and question the meaning of the universe?
The guy is killing my career, is what he’s doing.
Chris Sheridan lists Butler as an MVP candidate in his rankings, and if it weren’t for the rumored infighting and tumult surrounding the Bulls right now (read the column for deets), he might be in the top five.
Butler has busted out as an offensive star this season while remaining dynamic on the defensive end. Michael Lee at the Washington Post even called him “arguably the game’s best two-way perimeter player.”
All of that’s great for Jimmy Butler, but it’s not great for me.
And it’s not just about Jimmy. The rest of the league has gone into a decidedly un-improved state, like they all started smoking weed and moved back in with their parents.
There aren’t many guys who have made big leaps this season, which is a direct contrast to last season and the previous season, when we could have put 15 players in the rankings table. It’s gotten so bad that I almost put Rudy Gobert in there. RUDY GOBERT.
In fact, I can’t even talk about this anymore. Let’s just take a look at the rankings while I get my resume ready. Ooh, look, there’s a job with Country Living magazine.
1. Jimmy Butler, G, Chicago Bulls. In exactly one more minute per game than last season (39.7 to 38.7), Butler is averaging seven more points (20.6 to 13.1), an extra rebound (6.0 to 4.9), and almost a full assist more (3.4 to 2.6). He is also shooting 46.5 percent from the floor, as compared to 39.7 percent last season. Now that’s the definition of improved. Yes, the Bulls have problems, but Butler ain’t one.
2. Giannis Antetokounmpo, F, Milwaukee Bucks. The “Greek Freak” is one of the biggest reasons why Milwaukee has already won six more games than it did last season. The other reason? Oh yeah, they’re not tanking anymore. Giannis is averaging 11.8 points and 6.2 boards in 27 minutes this season. He’s got crazy athleticism, and he’s the type of guy that NBA scouts drool over. There’s definitely tremendous upside potential.
3. Draymond Green, F, Golden State Warriors. Anyone who saw Draymond play at Michigan State knew this kid was a baller, and that all he needed was an opportunity. Well, he’s earned his chance in Golden State, and he’s killing it out there. Green is averaging 11.5 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists 1.4 blocks and 1.5 steals per game. Just like his college days.
4. Derrick Favors, F-C, Utah Jazz. This is more of a two-year thing, but it has been great to see Favors mature into the type of player that everyone thought he would be when he was selected with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2010 draft. D-Faves (he told me to call him that) is averaging 16 points and 9 boards for a Utah team that would be in the playoff picture if it were in the East. The Jazz have played hard and been competitive all season, despite their tough schedule.
5. Klay Thompson, G, Golden State Warriors. Steph’s sidekick has gone from 3-point specialist to bona fide second fiddle on a team that could win an NBA championship this season. He’s doing everything just a little bit better – from shooting the ball (44.4 percent from 3, up from 41.7 percent), to playing defense (1.2 steals, up from 0.9), to knocking down free throws (86 percent). If the world is a true and just place, he will be in NYC as an All-Star. Of course, it’s not, so he may not be. But that’s only because he plays in the West.
NEXT FIVE: Mason Plumlee, C, Brooklyn; Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, G, Detroit; Marreese Speights, F, Golden State; Dennis Schroder, G, Atlanta; Rudy Gobert, C, Utah.