It’s safe to say the Bulls’ front office didn’t expect Jimmy Butler to take on such an important role in just his second NBA season. With the departures of Ronnie Brewer and Kyle Korver, Butler was expected to step into a regular rotation spot behind Luol Deng, but given Deng’s ironman status, extended minutes didn’t seem likely. That all changed when backcourt injuries made Butler the next and best option at shooting guard.

Since taking over for Rip Hamilton as the starting shooting guard, Butler has been a revelation, averaging more than 13 points per game while also playing his trademark shutdown defense. At 6-foot-7, Butler has the rare ability to defend four positions. He covered one of the league’s best point guards, Deron Williams, last week in Brooklyn, keeping the former Illini star from getting to the rim in the closing minutes of a game the Bulls eventually won by a single point. Butler has also done a good job defending Kobe Bryant and LeBron James in the past, and he’s strong enough to guard power forwards in a pinch.

Now the question is what does Butler’s tremendous growth in Year 2 mean for his future with the Bulls? Clearly, Hamilton won’t be back next season, and since Marco Belinelli and Nate Robinson are heading into free agency, they might not return either. Gar Forman might just decide his best option going forward at shooting guard is with the guy who entered the draft in 2011 with serious questions about his outside shooting ability.

Butler worked hard over the past two summers to develop his mid-range shooting, and now he’s become adept at hitting the corner 3, which is one of the most efficient shots in the game. Butler still needs to become more consistent from beyond the arc, and work on his ball-handling skills, but that shouldn't be a major issue. Clearly, the former Marquette star has the skill set to be a better than average starting guard in the league.