With the Oklahoma City Thunder immersed in a rebuild, it seemed like a pretty good place for Jared Butler to try and restart his NBA career. Butler had been coming off a successful college career that resulted in a national championship at Baylor when he was selected with the 40th overall pick in the 2021 draft by the Utah Jazz. He struggled to find a consistent role though as a rookie and the Jazz ultimately made him one of their final roster cuts ahead of this past season.

After a strong stint in the G League, Butler was scooped up by the Thunder on a two-way contract back in March. He spent most of his time with the Oklahoma City Blue but they failed to make the playoffs so he ended the season with the Thunder as they made a push for the NBA Playoffs through the play-in tournament. While Butler was still getting acclimated to his new environment, he found someone to study from in Thunder star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.

“I can pick up a lot. I mean, the way he attacks the small/small pick and roll is truly phenomenal,” Butler told ClutchPoints. “And the way he gets into the paint and stays under control is something I've learned from him already. But I can learn a lot more. He's dynamic and playing with a guy like that is dynamic.”

Jared Butler and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander have a similar build in the sense that they're both combo guards. They're comfortable with the ball in their hands running the offense and making plays for others or being asked to score as a primary offensive option. Butler showed a lot of that ability while he was in the G League prior to being signed by the Thunder.

When Butler was in college at Baylor, he played alongside another point guard in Davion Mitchell. He was able to gain valuable reps off the ball as a scoring guard. He's been primarily a point guard though throughout his basketball career from high school and then at Baylor but his ability to play both guard positions is one of the things that makes him more marketable to teams now that he's in the NBA.

He's worked on his playmaking game and he's grateful that he's gotten another opportunity to show he can lead an offense.

“It's developed a lot. I feel like I've always been able to pass the ball. It's just the role that I've been placed in has always been to score for my team,” I think this opportunity allows me to show that I can play the point guard position and be the lead guard. It's great because I feel like I can actually play the lead guard position well.”

Jared Butler began this season playing for the Grand Rapids Gold, the G League affiliate of the Denver Nuggets. Finding himself without an NBA contract as the regular season began, Butler made the decision to play in the G League to show potentials teams that he was capable of playing the NBA.

He began the 2022-23 G League season on a tear. In 23 games for the Gold, Butler averaged 17.1 points per game, 3.3 rebounds and 5.8 assists with splits of 43.8 percent shooting from the field, 35.4 percent shooting from the three-point line and 84 percent shooting from the free-throw line. His play was good enough to attract the attention of the Thunder who signed him to a two-way contract in early March.

Butler played in four games for the Oklahoma City Blue after signing with the Thunder and he put up 14.3 points, 2.8 rebounds and 8.8 assists. He shot 44.7 percent from the field and 38.9 percent from the three-point line. With the Blue not making the G League playoffs, Butler was able to rejoin the Thunder for the final stretch of the regular season.

He saw action in six games for the Thunder including one start. He put up 6.2 points and 1.3 assists and shot 46.9 percent from the field and 50 percent from the three-point line. Although it was tough lesson for him to learn when he was cut by the Jazz in preseason, he feels grateful for this new opportunity.

“I genuinely learned that the NBA is a business. Me growing up playing basketball, it just didn't seem fair from a basketball standpoint,” Butler said. “I mean, it was fair from a business standpoint. In the NBA, that's the way it works. Fortunately I've gotten another opportunity to play. It was really frustrating for me, but that's just how the NBA goes.”

In the offseason, Jared Butler will hit restricted free agency if the Thunder tender him a qualifying offer. It's not clear what exactly the Thunder's plans are for him in the future, but he's still got a lot of upside as an NBA player and worth a further look. For now, he's just hoping he's done enough for the Thunder to consider keeping him on the roster long term and so he can continue to learn from Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.

“Honestly, just build the trust of the OKC organization, hopefully they see my value,” Butler said. “And I'm always looking to get better at basketball, that's my main job. Hopefully I can continue to improve my game and they see my value.”