Just in case you’ve been living under a rock, the Baylor Bears shocked the world of collegiate hoops when they throttled the prior-to undefeated Gonzaga Bulldogs for the 2021 NCAA national championship. Gonzaga’s one-and-done star Jalen Suggs, with his incredible draft profile, ceiling, and recent performance is projected to go within the top five picks in the draft. However, Baylor has its own scoring guard that teams are starting to get high on as well.
Jared Butler Is Going To Be A Great NBA Player
At 21-years-old, Jared Butler will be one of the older prospects going into this year’s draft. He is coming off of a scintillating performance in the NCAA Tournament, in which he was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player. He follows in the footsteps of Steph Curry and Buddy Hield as semi-heralded prospects who saw their draft stock dramatically rise after a banner year. Not bad company for the youngster.
Now, to be fair to his detractors going into the draft, Butler has some growing to do. His shooting splits are solid, but for his size (6’3, -200 lbs), he’s not very athletic. He’s also definitely more of a scorer than a facilitator at this point in his basketball career, and he’s probably a little too small to shift up to the two-guard spot. Finally, while he is young, as is expected of a rookie, he is also one of the oldest rookies on the board. As is, his ceiling is much closer than that of Cade Cunningham or Suggs.
Where Jared Butler does excel, however, is in his intangibles. As an upperclassman helming a national champion, he is very levelheaded. Outside of his predilect for self-creation rather than involving teammates, he does show some very good habits and playmaking instincts. Finally, he is very coachable on both ends of the floor. Baylor’s defense was no joke this season, and Butler was a big part of that. If his main problem is his lack of passing desire, there is little doubt that a playoff-bound coach will be able to fix that issue posthaste.
To summarize: we have a sweet-shooting floor general that is not overwhelmingly athletic, but pesky. Jared Butler’s ceiling projects to be around Utah Jazz guard Mike Conley in terms of style. He won’t wow you with his numbers, but under the right system, he could be a great difference-maker.
The question is, what teams are in the market for such a prospect? Let’s find out.
New York Knicks
Sound the alarm people, the New York Knicks are a legitimate playoff team, with a pair of true budding stars in RJ Barrett and Julius Randle. The pecking order is well-established as well, and the rest of the team is buying into the team’s hard-nosed, defensive philosophy. Head coach Tom Thibodeau has seemingly found a home in this grind-it-out iteration of the Knicks.
Their biggest problem is with playmaking. The team shoots well from three, sitting just outside the league’s top ten shooting teams from deep. However, every single one of their assist metrics is right down in the league’s basement. The team is full of creators and shot makers, but they don’t have a floor general to make decisions on the court.
A tough-nosed team with a chip on their shoulder that needs a floor general with vision? Sounds like it’s right up Jared Butler’s alley.
The Knicks are set to pick twice in the first round, and Butler will certainly be available. While his teammate Davione Mitchell profiles as the better passer with a higher per-game assist average, Butler is right there with him and is possibly a better scorer.
Now, to head this off: the Boston Celtics already have a star at point guard with Kemba Walker to pair with their young studs on the wing in Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum.
Walker is old, redundant, and worst of all, expensive. He has been performing well under his $30 million per year salary, and that when he’s actually able to make it onto the court. Moreover, as recent years have passed by, Brad Stevens’ weakness as a coach is getting exposed little by little.
Butler would give the Celtics an instant plug into the offense, which has a clear hierarchy that he will be forced to respect. Keep him on the bench while he develops or while Kemba Walker remains untradeable, and he has the potential to be a low-level All-Star in the Celtics’ system.
While the Celtics might be wanting to go big in this year’s draft, they are also in need of a floor general that is on Tatum and Brown’s timeline. Butler is just the man for the job.
If Jared Butler slips all the way to the 26th pick in the NBA Draft, the Los Angeles Clippers might have just found the draft’s best steal.
Try as they might, the Clippers just can’t seem to find a real playmaker to get the ball to Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. Leonard has been spectacular as the team’s primary playmaker, but there is a lot of unlockable offense that this team is missing out on without a true floor general. Butler could be that and more.
His pesky defense will render Patrick Beverley obsolete, which is a good thing. Beverley is aging and is more bark than bite on both ends of the floor at this point for his career. The worst thing is that he is kind of their best option at point guard.
The Clippers need a floor general that matches their gritty culture. Bonus points if that player fits into their offensive system and doesn’t make any waves with PG or Kawhi. Jared Butler checks all of those boxes.