Ben Margot/Associated Press
Minnesota Timberwolves swingman Jimmy Butler is averaging just 14.7 points per game through his first nine contests with his new team after tallying a career-high 23.9 last season with the Chicago Bulls.
However, he said Friday he will look to take on more of a scoring role moving forward.
“I’m going back to putting the ball in the basket,” he said, per Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune. “I like to put the ball in the basket. I think I’ve gotten really good at it over the years, so we’ll see a different player from here on out.”
Butler’s comments come after a stretch of three games in which he scored just 11 points against the Golden State Warriors, 13 points against the Charlotte Hornets and four points against the Dallas Mavericks.
He is doing other things, though, as his 5.0 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 1.7 steals per game suggest. He also often defends the opposition’s best wing or backcourt player for critical stretches, and opponents are shooting 2.6 percent worse than their normal averages and 5.3 percent worse from three-point range when he guards them this season, per NBA.com.
Butler has served as a veteran leader for young pieces such as Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins and has a franchise that hasn’t made the playoffs since the 2003-04 campaign at 7-4 in the early going.
“Leadership isn’t about scoring points, to tell you the truth,” Butler acknowledged, per Zgoda. “But I do think I have to start scoring the ball a lot more. I think I’ve come too far to be as passive as I am right now. I’m always going to pass the ball to the open man, but if I feel like I can get my shots off and think I can make it, I’m going to take each and every one of those.”
He will have a chance to start scoring again Saturday when the Timberwolves take on the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena.