On Draft Night, June 22nd, 2017, the Chicago Bulls and Minnesota Timberwolves agreed to a trade that sent Jimmy Butler to the Timberwolves and the 7th-pick, which became Lauri Markkanen, Kris Dunn, and Zach LaVine.
Immediately after the news, Bulls fans were furious with the package that they received in exchange for their beloved Jimmy Butler. To many fans around the league, the Bulls just traded away a definitive superstar, defensive-anchor, and leader in Butler to the Minnesota Timberwolves in exchange for a draft bust who averaged 4 PPG his rookie year (Kris Dunn), a lanky European (Lauri Markkanen), and a promising, athletic guard… who happened to have a torn ACL (Zach LaVine).
After 3 months of play, Bulls fans have come to the honest conclusion that they, in fact, have received the upper hand in the deal. Let’s take a deeper look:
The Timberwolves received a 3x (potentially 4x) All-Star in Jimmy Butler. Currently, he is averaging 21.4 PPG, 5.4 RPG, and 5.2 APG, all while shooting 47% from the field. Jimmy got off to a slow start to the season, but since December, he has averaged an impressive 25.1 PPG, 5.3 RPG, and 5.5 APG on 50% shooting! Also, don’t forget the defensive end, where Jimmy has accumulated 4 All-Defensive Team selections over his career, and currently averages 2 steals an outing while completely changing the Timberwolves’ defensive mentality. Not only that, Jimmy Butler always places his team on his back in the clutch, fixing a major Timberwolves’ issue in which the team blew and lost 22 double-digit leads last season, a league worst. To summarize the acquisition of Butler in one statistic, the Timberwolves are currently tied with the Spurs for 3rd in the West at 29-16, compared to last season’s record of 31-51 (13TH in the West). Thanks to Jimmy G. Buckets (the “G” stands for “Gets”), the Minnesota Timberwolves will undeniably make their FIRST playoff appearance in 13 years (2003-04 season), and do not expect them to be an easy knockout.
The Chicago Bulls received three potential, future ALL-STARS for the price of one. First off, Kris Dunn, who is a 23-year-old, top-tier defender, and quality playmaker, averaging 13.8 points (10.0 PPG increase from previous season), 6.3 assists (3.9 increase), 4.7 boards (2.6 increase), and a whole 2.1 steals. He’s a serious candidate for the Most Improved Player award. Secondly, Lauri Markkanen, a 7-foot, sharpshooting, athletic monster who’s having a better rookie year than both Dirk Nowitzki and Kristaps Porzingis, each of whom Lauri is commonly compared to. Lauri is currently averaging 15.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 2.5 threes per game. Finally, 2x Dunk Contest champion Zach LaVine has finally returned from his ACL-tear from March. He didn’t shy away in his first game back, scoring 14 points on 55.6% shooting in only 19 minutes! He followed that game up with 18 points on 58% shooting in just 20 minutes. Things are taking a turn for the better in Chicago, and fans would argue that the Bulls are better and more exciting than last season with Jimmy Butler AND Dwyane Wade. Currently, the Bulls just came off of a 10-2 record in December (best in the league), and are going to continue to show promise while continuing to tank for a pick in the next draft. Hold your heads up high, Bulls fans, the future is here!
After an in-depth look at all the aspects of the blockbuster deal, one can conclude that both teams, in fact, won this trade, each adding necessary pieces to their team. Though, the Timberwolves may have won for the present, the Bulls have won the future.