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The Bulls would be screwed without Jimmy Butler

Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

Jimmy Butler is the best player on the Bulls, which should be common knowledge at this point. He's the best offensive player. He's the best defensive player. Which, by default, makes his the team's best two-way player, but the more revealing aspect of that is Butler's the only legitimate two-way player the Bulls have. I don't know that I need to go down the roster one-by-one, but the names that folks are probably more familiar with -- the Derrick Roses, Joakim Noahs and Pau Gasols -- aren't anywhere near as complete a player as Butler is.

Pull back the curtains and look at this roster impartially: Noah can't score, Gasol can't defend, Nikola Mirotic's shot is broken, Doug McDermott isn't grasping NBA defensive concepts and Rose hits a setback seemingly every time he gets it going. Among the mishmash that is the Chicago Bulls roster, there's but one concrete piece -- Jimmy Butler.

What's Jimmy Butler not doing? Better yet, what is he not capable of doing? He's scoring, defending, playmaking, shooting, driving, rebounding and he's serving as the most integral part of both the offensive and defensive schemes. Look no further than Chicago's game plan against Golden State to demonstrate Butler's fundamental value.

Against the Warriors, the Bulls had Butler guarding Draymond Green as opposed to throwing him at Stephen Curry. To be clear, there's no "best" way to guard the Warriors, but by sticking Butler on Green, the Bulls at least chose to not let the Warriors play 4-on-3 in the halfcourt, which is effectively what happens when Golden State runs Green-Curry pick-and-rolls as teams will rush to double Curry in an effort to take him out of the play. Thus, Golden State wanted to avoid running Curry-Green pick-and-rolls as it would've created the incredibly rare instance of a team switching its best defender onto Curry, nullifying any true advantage (I mean, he's still Steph, but you get the idea).

Butler earned his chops in the NBA as a balls-to-the-walls defender, but man, he's really outdone himself on that end so far this season. You see, the dirty little secret in Chicago last year was that Butler's defense slipped, which was certainly understandable considering his newfound offensive responsibilities. But quite frankly, it was true: Butler was not nearly an All-NBA defender in 2014-15, as evidenced by opponents shooting four percentage points better when Butler guarded them, per It should be noted, though, that while Butler's regular season defense was not anywhere near elite, he defended LeBron James as well anyone can reasonably be expected to defend LeBron James in the Eastern Conference Semis. He's still one of about a handful of guys who can be tasked with sticking LeBron one-on-one without necessitating a bevy of help.

This year, however, opponents are shooting three percentage points worse than their normal average when Butler is assigned to them. And the thing that's always been most impressive about Butler's defensive prowess is that he can also generate steals without compromising himself or the possession entirely. It's scary to think, but Jimmy is just now figuring out how to score 20 points a night while simultaneously shutting down his man. This is a 2015-16 development. It's happening here in the present. Plus, he's ended like three games already this season with identifiable clutch game-saving defensive plays, which is just super badass. It's becoming something of a finisher if this were professional wrestling.

He's the key component to everything the Bulls are trying to do. Offensively, the areas in which he's improved the most are his shooting and his handle. He's a smidgen under 40 percent from 3-point range at the moment and he's currently experiencing a career-high usage rate (24 percent) while maintaining a career-low turnover rate (7.5 percent). Seriously, do people realize how good this is? Across the league, he's top-fifteen in box plus/minus and win shares, and also top-twenty in both offensive and defensive win shares, per Basketball Reference.

Butler's always been excellent at moving without the ball and cutting, not to mention his propensity for getting to the free throw line. But now, he's added so many dimensions to his game. His turnaround fade is silky smooth. He's developed into a dual-threat on pick-and-rolls. He's really the only shot-creator the team has aside from Rose on his best days. Less than half of Butler's made two-point field goals have been assisted this season, which tells us he's comfortable getting buckets independently. And even so, he's the only above-the-rim athlete the Bulls can consistently lean on for above-the-rim plays i.e.: alley-oops.

Although it may be obvious, I don't think it can be overstated: the Bulls would be absolutely screwed without Butler. Like, are we so sure the Bulls wouldn't be in the midst of a rebuild if Jimmy didn't blossom into a top-twenty player? He's single-handily keeping the Bulls in the conversation (whatever that means) as contenders in the East. He's covering up a lot of issues with this team by playing like a top ten player. Jimmy's a superstar, man.

Jimmy's been so great that despite the Butler / E'Twaun Moore / Doug McDermott / Taj Gibson / Joakim Noah five-man lineup producing a mind-boggling -95.2 net rating in 10 minutes of action -- which is a considerable amount through 12 games, and is the Bulls' 10th most used lineup -- he still has a positive net rating overall.

For now, let's just enjoy the fact that Butler's probably the best shooting guard in basketball at the moment. And without him, the Bulls -- as a franchise -- would undoubtedly be heading in a different direction.