Ranking each of Jimmy Butler’s 5 seasons with Heat, individually

Jimmy Butler
Jimmy Butler just completed his fifth season with the Miami Heat. (Wilfredo Lee/AP Photo)

Since joining the organization ahead of the 2019-20 season, Miami Heat star Jimmy Butler has created several unforgettable moments.

Yes, there are plenty of discussions about his future because of his contract. But we’re not here to talk about that today! Yesterday, we discussed the best Miami Heat teams of the Butler era … now, let’s discuss Butler’s best seasons with Miami, individually.

Which one was the best, and which was the worst? Let’s hop into it!

5. 2023-24

Skinny: Relative to his standards, this was arguably Butler’s worst season in a decade. He picked his spots, but wasn’t as engaged on- and off-ball defensively relative to his previous four seasons with the Heat.

In all fairness, those four were either very good or even All-Defensive caliber seasons, so it’s not like Butler was a bad defender this year, per se. But his generational off-ball defense, in past years, created easy offense for a Heat team that oftentimes struggled to create in the halfcourt. That aspect of his game didn’t pop like it has, thus affecting the Heat’s transition offense (or lack thereof) and overall offensive output.

He also saw a dip in rim attempts and rim efficiency. He’s long been Miami’s most effective shot creator at generating paint touches, the most effective form of offense. Butler did have his best 3-point shooting season, converting on a career-best 41.4 percent of his long-range attempts–an aspect of his game he could look to expand upon.

It’s appropriate to contextualize that he did deal with a personal matter in the middle of the season. Jimmy Butler’s a human being. That can affect his game mentally. He also had nearly a handful of lower-body injuries over the last calendar year, including a season-ending sprained MCL.

There was likely a combination of outside factors. But Butler wasn’t their best player when he needed to be their best player … several times. And he was publicly called out by the godfather Pat Riley. Perhaps a full offseason will do him wonders. We’ll see.

4. 2021-22

Skinny: This was a tough ranking, because I don’t have too much to knock from this season. Miami’s offense late in games (through him) left plenty to be desired, and he played his lowest percentage of available regular season games (69.5 percent) in 2021-22.

But it’s hard to completely knock him when the Heat won 53 games while finishing with a top-11 offense and defense for the first-and-only time of the Butler era. This was the Heat’s best season since he arrived. The infusion of personal friend Kyle Lowry, Caleb Martin and P.J. Tucker helped ease pressure on both ends.

That came in addition to Tyler Herro taking a massive step forward in a sixth-man role plus Max Strus and Gabe Vincent digging their feet in to make their footprints known for the first time in their careers.

Butler may not have had the best efficiency or won many accolades because, respectfully, he didn’t really need to, for the most part.

Let’s also forget his 45-point Game 2 performance against Atlanta nor his trembling 47-point Game 6 against Boston (on one knee).


3. 2019-20

Skinny: Butler’s numbers weren’t great–relative to his standard–this season.

In 2019-20, he had his worst scoring season, effective field goal and true-shooting percentages and turnover rate with the fewest win shares. To dig a little deeper, it was also his second-worst Heat season in terms of VORP, box plus-minus and win shares per 48–albeit with the second-lowest usage.

Let’s add some additional context, though, shall we?

Butler was trying to commence a new culture around him and establish camaraderie with Bam Adebayo–who entered the starting lineup with his biggest role, at the time–rookies Tyler Herro and Kendrick Nunn, Goran Dragic and Duncan Robinson.

He also made the All-Star team, the All-NBA Third team and helped lead Miami to the NBA Finals for the first time since LeBron James left. To cap it off, he put together 40- and 35-point triple-doubles in Games 3 and 5 of the NBA Finals against James, respectively.

I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt over 2021-22, respectfully.


2. 2020-21

Skinny: Miami was coming off the second-shortest offseason in NBA History. Jimmy Butler also lost 15 pounds due to COVID in the middle of the season, but that didn’t phase him–even after quite literally leaving it all on the court in the 2020 NBA Finals.

A compromised Dragic plus inconsistent outputs from Kendrick Nunn and Tyler Herro–who was thrown into the fire as a primary shot-creator at the start of the season–resulted in Butler being the team’s de-facto point guard.

The 2020-21 season netted his highest assist percentage (35.0)–by far–of his career. He also led the NBA in steals at 2.1 per game, helping him earn All-Defensive second team for the fifth time in his career. His per-possession scoring, rebounding, passing (based on assists, even though they’re not all created equally) and steals were all career bests up to this point.

But Jimmy Butler’s best Heat season ended up being…..

1. 2022-23

Skinny: Even though he followed this up with his worst, the 2022-23 season was his best … and healthiest.

This season marked his Heat high in games played (64) and percentage of available games played (78.0), in addition to his best and most efficient scoring season. To add to that, he totaled the most win shares, win shares per 48, VORP, offensive box plus-minus, total box plus-minus; he finished 10th in MVP voting, second in clutch player of the year voting and was a second-team All-NBA honoree.

It may have been one of the worst regular seasons of his era, but Jimmy Butler was phenomenal by every conceivable metric. He was on pace for a historical playoff output before getting hurt in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the New York Knicks.

Let’s just play this 56-point Game 4 against Milwaukee back one more time … Heat in 5 forever and ever!



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I think the 19-20 season was the best. The aggression on defense jumped off the screen. And it was contagious. The whole team was jumping passing lanes and hounding ballhandlers. I think the 21-22 season was my personal favorite Jimmy Butler season. They lost in Game-7 of the ECF, but they were the #1 seed in the East that season. And if they had won the East, that was probably their best chance to win The Finals.

I will agree that last season was his worst season with the Heat.

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