CHISportsNation

As I’m sure most Bulls fans already know, Jimmy Butler is set to return to the United Center Friday night. This will be the first time Jimmy plays in Chicago since being traded to Minnesota on draft night back in June.

Jimmy has made it known that he is looking forward to this game and I am fully expecting him to go Super Saiyan on the court. Don’t be surprised to see a little trash talk too.

Everyone, and I mean literally everyone, that I spoke to thought this trade was a disaster when it was first announced. The Bulls gave up their franchise (and their first round pick) for 3 question marks and many Bulls fans were ready to jump off the bandwagon if they had not already. The fans were so upset that they raised enough money to literally place a billboard in Chicago that read #FireGarPax.

Fast forward to February of 2018 and the conversation around the Jimmy Butler trade has changed quite a bit. Jimmy Butler has changed the culture in Minnesota, while the Bulls have found 3 key players of their future.

Let’s break it down a bit and see how each team has fared this season, as well as what the long-term outlook for both sides is.

Minnesota

The T’Wolves are a Joakim Noah buyout away from becoming the Chicago Bulls 2.0.

Already equipped with former Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, the T’Wolves acquired Jimmy Butler this summer along with Taj Gibson.

Quick side note: Shoutout to Taj Gibson man. One of my favorite Bulls of all-time. My favorite memory of him was back in 2013 in a playoff series against the Nets. I was at the game and can’t remember ever hearing a dunk as loud as this one.Taj sets a screen for Nate Robinson (super shoutout to Nate) at the 3-point line then cuts towards the basket. Nate slips him this beautiful bounce pass and Taj takes off. In his way was poor Kris Humphries, who had a better chance of surviving a Kardashian than stopping this dunk (neither option worked out for him). Taj posterizes Humphries and the sound was equivalent to the noise The Incredible Hulk would make if he ever crashed into a semi truck full of explosives (times two).  Then, to top it all off, Carlos Boozer just stands and yells for what seemed like 5 minutes as if he did anything (super shout out to Carlos Boozer, too). See the dunk for yourself here.

Minnesota is currently 4th in the West and will most likely end up as the 3 seed come playoff time. That’s quite a big jump for a team that has not made the playoffs since 2004. While there is no doubt that they have a very talented young squad led by Karl Anthony-Towns and Andrew Wiggins, they were missing a key veteran to take them over the top.

Jimmy Butler has changed the culture in Minnesota and has gotten the young guys to buy into Thibs and what he preaches. He is having, in my opinion, the best season of his career and he should be a top 10, if not top 5, MVP candidate. They are set up for success both now and in the future, and they have to be extremely happy with what they have seen from Jimmy Butler. They also received C Justin Patton in the deal who has yet to make an impact, but that’s typically all rookies under Thibs so it’s too early to tell what he brings to the table.

Short-Term Grade: A+
Long-Term Grade: B+
Overall Grade: A

Chicago

The Bulls on the other hand, are currently 13th in the East, and are only 1.5 games behind the Hawks and Mavericks for worst record in the entire NBA. They started the season 3-20, before going on a ridiculous hot stretch, before eventually cooling off and (as of today) are on a 7 game losing streak.

Still, Lauri Markkanen has looked like a future All-Star and could very well wind up being the best player out of the 3. He has been so impressive as a rookie and is averaging 15 points and almost 8 rebounds a game. He looks to be the real deal and a perfect stretch 4 in the modern NBA.

Kris Dunn has been more hit than miss, and you can clearly tell how much this team misses him. I would argue that he would have been in the running for Most Improved Player this year if he didn’t get hurt (and he still might). He has improved his shot and his defense will always make him a reliable player in the NBA. The thing I’ve loved most about him is his desire to be THE guy and even Coach Hoiberg has stated he’s the “closer” of this team.

Zach LaVine has a much smaller sample size after returning from his ACL injury a few weeks ago. I think it’s too early to tell what type of player he will turn out to be, but he has started to score more efficiently the past couple of games after struggling initially.

Out of the 3 players we got in the deal, I’m most excited to see him develop because he has all the tools to one day become a premier player in this league.

Plus, he looks 100% healthy and doesn’t appear to have lost any of his hops. Just ask Jakaar Sampson, who literally got dunked back to the G-League.

This season was always about securing a top pick in the upcoming draft, the development of our young players, and acquiring as many assets as possible. 2 for 3 so far.

Short-Term Grade: C+
Long-Term Grade: A
Overall Grade: B+

I’m of the mindset that if you can get a top 10 NBA player on your team via trade, then you do it. I think the Timberwolves still got the better end of the deal here which is why they get the overall higher grade, at least for now.

Still, this is probably one of the more even trades in recent NBA memory and both teams will benefit both in the short-term and in the long run. Time will tell who ultimately wins this trade but just think, you could be a fan of a franchise who 1.) traded away their star point guard to Boston, 2.) received a point guard who can barely walk in return, and 3.) resides in Cleveland.

7 months after the trade, things aren’t looking too bad in Chicago.

(Photo by NBA.com)

Wanna talk Bulls? Tweet me at @jdez_xo.

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