Jimmy Butler is pumped for Dwyane Wade to make his return to the Chicago Bulls on Saturday night against the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center.
But should he be?
Butler, for his part, doesn’t appear to be equivocating. As he said after the Bulls’ Thursday night win over the Philadelphia 76ers, per CSN Chicago’s Vince Goodwill:
Butler on Wade returning Saturday: "I’m stoked to have my guy back, let him get out there, get in a rhythm, and do what he’s done for years"
— Vincent Goodwill (@vgoodwill) April 7, 2017
So, like, I get it. Butler and Wade have become close. On an individual scale, Wade’s been the Bulls’ second- or third-best player. But Chicago is worse on both ends of the floor per 100 possessions with him in the game, according to NBA.com. And since he last played, on March 15, the Bulls are 7-4, with a top-six defensive rating and top-eight net rating. It’s possible that they’re worse with Wade, who is recovering from a fracture in his elbow.
Immediately, Wade won’t do too much damage. The Bulls will likely have him on a minutes cap, and their final three games come against the Nets (twice) and Orlando Magic. The Nets are scrappy, but they don’t instill fear; the Magic aren’t actively trying to win.
Still, this is necessary food for thought as the Bulls gear up for the playoffs. They’ve basically punched their ticket; they just need to beat teams they’re supposed to beat. And yet, there’s still time for them to screw it up. And even if they don’t, the bizarre statistical relationship between Wade and the team’s performance isn’t going anywhere.