Key #3 – Contain Jimmy Butler
Quite frankly, this may very well be the most crucial key of all. Despite his apparent disenchantment with the Minnesota Timberwolves, Jimmy Butler has been flat-out balling so far this year. Not only does he lead his Wolves team in scoring at 22.5 points per game, but he’s converting at insane rates of 50.5 percent from the field and 48 percent from three.
He’s almost certain to come back down to earth at some point, but for the time being, Jimmy has looked nigh unstoppable. He made it clear to his teammates and front office that he felt they’d have a hard time winning without him, and he’s most definitely showing it in full force on the court. Minnesota is just 3-4 on the year despite his phenomenal play, so it’s difficult to imagine where they’d be without him.
Unsurprisingly, though, the Timberwolves’ success or failure has correlated pretty much directly with the play of Jimmy Butler. The difference between his stats in wins versus losses is nothing short of astounding. In wins, he’s putting up 28.3 points per game on 63.6 percent shooting from the field and 70 percent from deep while logging a plus/minus of plus-three.
Meanwhile, in losses, Butler is only putting up 16.7 points on shooting splits of 38.3 percent from the field and 33.3 percent from the perimeter while logging a plus/minus of minus-10.7. It’s cliche, but the saying rings true – as Butler goes, so go the Timberwolves.
That difference in performance in wins versus losses is almost hard to believe, but is also obviously indicative of who the head of the snake is. Jimmy Butler may want out of Minnesota, but it’s clear that he remains the team’s lifeblood. If the Jazz want to stop the Timberwolves, they’ll have to start by containing Jimmy Butler. If they do so, I like their chances of forcing Minnesota into a tough night.