Miami Heat head coach Erick Spoelstra reckons Jimmy Butler would be in the MVP conversation during a normal season.

The Heat had a pretty short offseason after playing in the NBA Finals last year and are heading into the end of a shortened 72-game campaign. The reigning Eastern Conference champions were 35-30 ahead of their game against the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday night. The record had them sitting sixth in the conference.

Butler, who did not suit up to play Dallas due to flu-like symptoms, is averaging 21.5 points, 7.2 assists, 7.0 rebounds and 2.1 steals per game on 49.3 percent shooting from the field this term. However, he isn’t among the ranks of Nikola Jokic, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Chris Paul, Joel Embiid and Steph Curry.

Spoelstra, though, thinks that would not be the case in a full year.

“I think if we had a complete year… Jimmy Butler would have to be in that conversation for MVP,” he told reporters ahead of Tuesday night’s game.

The Heat have struggled this season, on the back of their fairy-tale run to the finals in 2020. They’ve cut a very inconsistent bunch for various reasons but will likely feel a heightened sense of urgency given the introduction of the NBA’s new play-in tournament.