Jimmy Butler has yet to make his regular-season debut with the Miami Heat. Sunday’s game in Minnesota marked the third consecutive game Butler has missed to start the season following the birth of his daughter, which occurred the night of the Heat’s season opener.
But while we have yet to see the former Wolves wing’s on-court impact in Miami, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said Butler is Miami’s “kind of guy.”
You know some of the things Butler drew criticism for in Minnesota? Those are some of the qualities Miami loves most.
“We like these competitive, edgy kind of guys,” Spoelstra said. “For better or worse, that’s us. We are who we are, we like who we like, and Jimmy fits into our model.”
Spoelstra said he has coached a few guys in Miami who fit that mold — players such as Dwayne Wade, Alonzo Mourning and Udonis Haslem.
“All of them are cut from the same cloth — super competitive,” he said. “On the … very edge of competitiveness and boiling over. That’s our language. So when you have your best player believing in the same things that you believe in, that’s a pretty good place to start.”
Spoelstra said he has enjoyed having Butler around for non-basketball reasons.
“He’s an adult. We talk about life things, worldly things away from basketball,” Spoelstra said. “That’s not to take anything away from anybody else, but in that regard, he reminds me of like Dwayne with the conversations you can have with those kinds of guys. I’ve enjoyed it.”
True to his brand, Butler has bumped more country music in practice than Miami is used to, but Spoelstra is good with that, too.
“I’m trying to convince him to play a bit more U2 at practice,” he said, “but we’ll see.”
The Timberwolves outscored their opponents by an impressive 50 points in their first two games when Josh Okogie was on the floor.
Okogie’s positive impact his stemmed from his calling card — relentless energy. That was particularly noticeable in Minnesota’s win in Charlotte, when the Wolves got off to a sluggish start before they were ignited by Okogie’s energy off the bench.
Coach Ryan Saunders has been particularly impressed with Okogie’s early-season energy considering the guard played for the Nigerian national team in the FIBA World Cup late in the summer. Saunders complimented Okogie on the way he’s taken care of his body.
“He wanted to give everything he had to his country and to that group of guys,” Saunders said. “And for him to come back and still be able to produce … just the lift he’s given us off the bench is something that we’ve needed.”
Okogie was asked Saturday just how he’s feeling.
“I feel all right, I feel all right,” Okogie said. “The season started, so right now it doesn’t really matter how I feel.”
Starting same five
The Timberwolves tinkered with their starting lineup during the preseason, mixing in Treveon Graham and Jake Layman to open the game alongside Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins, Jeff Teague and Robert Covington.
Saunders said the starting lineup could vary throughout the season. But Sunday marked the third time in three games the Wolves started Graham in that fifth spot.