Sports

The Case for #JiMVP: Ten Reasons Jimmy Butler Deserves MVP Consideration

Jimmy Butler isn't as good as advertised. He's better.
Jimmy Butler isn't as good as advertised. He's better. Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty
The #JimVP train continues to gain steam as Heat fans and local media attempt to interrupt the conversation around the NBA's Most Valuable Player award to highlight how important Jimmy Butler has been to Miami's success.

While the chances of Butler actually winning MVP are slim to none, the fan-fueled, half-joking campaign has elevated Butler as a dark horse in the race and rekindled an age-old question about the end-of-season award: How does one really define who is most valuable to their team?

Because we're homers and believe Jimmy Butler really does deserve to be in the MVP discussion, we decided to compile all the reasons he's so valuable to the Miami Heat in one handy-dandy list.

Here are ten reasons Jimmy Butler should be this season's NBA MVP.
The Heat wins more basketball games when he plays. What's the clearest way to determine whether a player is valuable to his team? I'm no expert, but a team winning much more than it loses when that person plays seems like a good start.

To date, the Heat is 25-15 when Jimmy Butler is on the court and 4-11 when he doesn't play. Without Butler, the Heat is quite literally one of the worst teams in the NBA. With him, they are one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference.
He's one of the best recruiters in the NBA. In 2021, the most valuable players are the ones who recruit other players. LeBron James is a fantastic player, but he's most valuable because wherever he goes, other All-Star players follow. Without that, LeBron likely would have no titles to his name, rather than four.

Jimmy Butler is why Victor Oladipo practically begged to come to Miami. He's why Bradley Beal and other stars flirt with Miami. Just like Dwyane Wade, Butler is recruiting the best. Without that gravitational pull, there'd be far less talent in Miami.
He's having a LeBron-like season, statistically. As of Monday, Jimmy Butler was averaging 21.5 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 7.1 assists per game. Almost no one puts up those numbers across the board. (LeBron has basically the same number of assists and rebounds as Butler, but four more points per game.)

If it's numbers you like to see as an MVP voter, Jimmy Butler is giving them to you, all while being one of the most unselfish players on the team.
He keeps the mood light so his teammates remember to have fun. An NBA season is already extremely long, but a season during a pandemic is even longer. Luckily, Jimmy Butler has been a breath of fresh air for his teammates both this season and last season in the playoff bubble.

Every team needs a guy to break up the monotony. It's rare to find that that guy is the best player on the team.
Availability is the best ability an MVP can have. After a long 2020, Jimmy Butler took a slow approach to getting back on the floor this season. A month ago, he had some ankle issues for a week or two. But since then, Butler has been rock solid and in the lineup every day. As ESPN's Jeff Van Gundy asked: How many games can an MVP miss?

LeBron is going to miss a huge chunk of the season with his current injury. James Harden wasn't even on his current team earlier in the year and has missed a large portion of games. If all stays the same and Jimmy stays healthier than his competitors, he'll have an edge in games played.
He has singlehandedly kept the Heat championship-relevant. After LeBron left Miami in 2014, the Heat, as a contender, took a step back. Then Dwyane Wade left in free agency a few years later — albeit for a brief time before returning — and it all went to shit.

If Jimmy hadn't signed with the Heat, there'd likely be a lot less contending and a lot more of those post-Wade shitty days. Instead, the Heat, as a franchise, has remained on top.

Not many players can say they almost singlehandledly kept a franchise above water. Jimmy has carried the championship tradition into another era.
He's the best defensive player in the MVP conversation. For whatever reason, defense is never mentioned when a player is considered for the MVP award. First, statistics are compared to others, then the team's record is factored in.

Butler is having the best all-around season of any MVP candidate right now. He may not be the best defender or the best offensive player, but he's higher on both ends than James Harden or even LeBron James.
It shouldn't be an award that factors in the prior season, but this isn't any other season. With everything we've all been through, October seems like two years ago. It's easy to forget that Jimmy Butler put the Miami Heat on his back and hauled it to two wins away from an NBA title.

The current season began only a handful of weeks later. While other teams had eight months off, the Heat barely had eight weeks off. Yet Butler is here doing it all over again for Miami.

It shouldn't matter or be factored in, but there should be a wink-wink on this one. The lack of rest is a factor.
He's basically a walking billboard for the City of Miami. Hey, we're just making shit up now, but it feels like it should be a thing: Jimmy Butler is all the Miami vibes. LeBron James is a food truck delivering championships across the country. James Harden just got into Brooklyn and doesn't even look right in the jersey. And Nikola Jokic doesn't exactly scream Denver.

Jimmy Butler is valuable to his team because he looks like his team. He's a brand. He's, as the kids say, a vibe. That's valuable to Miami, so it should be valuable to the NBA. We just made this up, but it sounds good!
He's getting the best out of the young core. Other MVP candidates are on set-it-and-forget-it teams. Superstars playing with superstars. Miami isn't that. It's Jimmy and a lot of up-and-comers. And Jimmy is the perfect mentor for their development.

So shouldn't the fact that Jimmy is a tutor on the side while still working his day job as one of the top players in the NBA give him added value over, say, James Harden, who gets to play with Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Blake Griffin, and a bunch of other seasoned veterans every night? I'd say so.

Jimmy Butler may not win the MVP award this season, but he deserves serious consideration. It's time to break the norms surrounding the award and crown the player who is truly most valuable to his franchise — not just the most successful player on the most successful team. 
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Ryan Yousefi is a freelance writer for Miami New Times, a lover of sports, and an expert consumer of craft beer and pho. Hanley Ramirez once stole a baseball from him and to this day still owes him $10.
Contact: Ryan Yousefi