Lost in Derrick Rose drama has been the play of Jimmy Butler

SHARE Lost in Derrick Rose drama has been the play of Jimmy Butler

The daily Derrick Rose medical update came and went Friday: Mild strain of the left hamstring, questionable for the Pacers game, nothing new here, coach Tom Thibodeau said.

Thibodeau would rather focus on some of the Bulls’ early-season bright spots.

“There’s a good story about the guys that are here and out there,’’ Thibodeau said Thursday when discussing all the Rose drama this week and how it’s taking away from a 7-2 team.

Shooting guard Jimmy Butler is one of those good stories. The 2011 first-round pick will enter the game Saturday leading the Bulls in scoring (19.7 points per game) and steals (1.29 per game), and he’s third on the team in rebounding (6.3 per game).

He’d prefer it if no one noticed.

“I think it’s ’cause I don’t really care for any of that,’’ Butler said. “Yeah, we’ve got a lot of other guys that are more well-known on this team, and credit to them. They don’t really care about it that much, to tell you the truth. All we care about is winning here. Every guy up and down this roster, all we care about is just win.

“If you get recognized for your individual stats, everyone is happy for you. If you don’t, everyone is still happy for you. On this team, it doesn’t matter how many points you get or how many minutes, you’re helping whether it’s in practice or in the game.’’

Butler is doing more than just helping. He’s taking over.

And with the dearth of talent at shooting guard around the league these days, an argument can be made that Butler is on the precipice of elite status.

“I don’t pay attention to things like that,’’ Butler said when asked to judge his place in the league. “I try to handle what I can handle and control what I can control.

“I mean, who am I to compare myself to other guys around this league? I’m never going to be viewed as the best shooting guard/wing in this league anyway.’’

When asked why, his reply came with no hesitation.

“Because I was a nobody coming out [of Marquette],’’ Butler said. “Nobody knew who I was. People probably still don’t know who I am. Maybe a few more people do know, but definitely not as much as some of the other guys. And I’m OK with that; I don’t care. I just want to help my team win. I just want to help the Chicago Bulls win. I couldn’t care less if anybody knows who I am.’’

Well, the secret’s out. Not only is he receiving more praise from around the league, but even his own teammates can’t help but promote him.

“He’s a good player; he’s very confident,’’ Rose said. “I want him to shoot more threes, but I’m going to let him do that in his own time. The way that he’s playing, the way he gets fouled, the way he’s playing defense right now, it’s good for the team. Like I said, it’s contagious.’’

That’s one way to describe what Butler has done. He has a simpler explanation.

“Just taking care of my body, doing what’s asked of me,’’ Butler said. “I’ll let others decide how good that is or isn’t.’’

Email: jcowley@suntimes.com

Twitter: @suntimes_hoops

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