When Jimmy Butler decided to leave the Philadelphia 76ers to join the Miami Heat, countless fans and analysts questioned him and even mocked him, claiming that he wasn't even going to make the playoffs.
Not only did the Heat reach the postseason but they even made it to the NBA Finals. And even though they had a tough task ahead with the Los Angeles Lakers, they could've pulled off an upset if they had been healthy.
Following that effort, there were a lot of expectations around Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat this season. Sadly, though, multiple injuries, Covid-19, and the rush of a shortened offseason took a massive toll on their chances.
That's why Heat coach Erik Spoelstra believes that Butler could easily be an MVP candidate if this were a normal regular season with a full summer to rest and 82 games in the schedule:
"I think if we had a complete year... Jimmy Butler would have to be in that conversation for MVP," Spoelstra said ahead of Tuesday's game vs. the Dallas Mavericks, as quoted by Brady Hawk of Five Reasons Sport Network
That's not a far-fetched thought. Butler is one of the best two-way players in the league and has proven to be a great leader as well. Also, when healthy, the Heat have been one of the best teams in the Association.
This season, Butler has posted averages of 21.5 points to go with career-highs in rebounds (7.0) and assists (7.2) while also leading the league in steals per game (2.1, also a career-high).
The Heat, however, have yet to clinch a playoff spot and are in serious jeopardy of falling into the play-in tournament with a 35-31 record and the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference as of now, so he has to step up and prove that his coach is right about him.