Bulls’ Chandler Hutchison feels he can take the Jimmy Butler path
Hutchison said he has shown flashes of being an elite NBA stopper despite missing so much time with injuries the last two seasons. But the Butler comp is a tall order for the 2018 first-round pick.
Go ahead and file the numbers under startling.
This is also the point where Bulls vice president of basketball operations John Paxson and general manager Gar Forman might want to stop reading.
The Bulls are 63-142 (a .307 winning percentage) since trading Jimmy Butler.
Since the 2017 draft-night trade, Butler’s teams (the Timberwolves, 76ers and Heat)are 100-59 (a .628 winning percentage) in games he has played in. He has taken three franchises to the postseason in three consecutive seasons and is likely carrying a fourth, the Heat, to the playoffs this season.
So to even mention Chandler Hutchison in the same sentence as Butler borders on blasphemy.
Obviously, sacrilege doesn’t bother the Bulls.
“It’s very dangerous to compare player to player,’’ coach Jim Boylen said. “What I’ve experienced in this league in coaching Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and Jimmy Butler, they came in and established themselves at the defensive end. A little different, all of them, but they established themselves, they bought in that, ‘To get on the floor, I’ve got to guard.’ . . . So those dirty-work, those toughness parts of the game, they locked into, which gave them a chance to play.
“Now they get minutes on the floor, and offensively they get more comfortable. They realize maybe what they don’t do well offensively, and they work on that, and they keep that foundation of defensive intensity and skill level and competitiveness. That’s what that comparison [with Hutchison] is about, and I think he understands what I want. I try to be real clear with that. So we’ll see if he can keep moving forward.’’
At least Hutchison, the 22nd pick from the 2018 draft, was moving as of Thursday.
He was slowed at the start of the season with a hamstring injury. When he came back, he injured his right shoulder. After almost six weeks of rehab, Hutchison finally returned to the rotation in Dallas on Jan. 6. But he left late during the Wizards game Wednesday after falling awkwardly and reinjuring the shoulder.
“When it happened, I felt kind of, like, a pop, so in dealing with my shoulder . . . it’s something you don’t want to hear,’’ Hutchison said after practice. “It locked up a little bit, and I had trouble lifting it above my shoulders, above my head.’’
His hope is that he’ll be available in Philadelphia on Friday, and considering he’s coming off one of his better games of the season — scoring 11 points in 12 minutes in the Bulls’ 115-106 victory against the Wizards — it’s about time for Hutchison to build some momentum.
As far as following the same path as Butler, well, Hutchison is a lot more confident that it’s attainable than maybe he should be, especially with so little evidence to support the case.
Just don’t tell him that.
“Yeah, 100 percent,’’ Hutchison said. “Just from the time I’ve been out there, I’ve had flashes of [being an elite defender]. Now whether that’s a role I’m going to be given or not, whatever it’s going to be, I never take defensive possessions off. That’s not me.’’
Hutchison wasn’t the only one to hold that opinion, either.
“Yes, he has shown flashes that he can lock a guy down,’’ Boylen said. “We need more of those moments.’’
To come close to matching Butler, make it a lot more of those moments.