Jared Butler made his case during the season and used the NCAA Tournament to make his final argument. He was named Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four after leading Baylor to the national championship.
Butler impressed the Warriors and the rest of the NBA. After his college career, he was one of the safest first-round picks in the draft -- before the caveat.
Butler was diagnosed in 2018 with a heart condition that halted his initial commitment to the University of Alabama. He transferred to Baylor, was cleared and excelled over three years with the Bears. But when he remained in the 2021 draft, the NBA put him through a fitness-to-play panel that did not clear him until last week.
The general belief is that lingering medical concerns will push Butler out of the lottery -- sending him sliding past Baylor teammate Davion Mitchell -- but his talent will keep him in the first round.
Holding picks No. 7 and No. 14, the Warriors’ path to the combo guard would be through a trade that moves them back into the high teens or early 20s, where Butler is projected to be taken.
Why would the Warriors be interested? Well, Butler is very good at scoring off the dribble, shoots it well, makes plays for teammates, is a good defender and has the always desirable high basketball IQ, which falls in line with his status as a multiple All-Academic team member.
All of these skills are wrapped inside old-soul composure. The Final Four is college basketball’s ultimate crucible, and Butler prospered as if it were a scrimmage.
Which makes sense. He had 22 points, seven assists and zero turnovers in the national title game against Gonzaga. At Oklahoma State, which features consensus top pick Cade Cunningham, Butler scored 22 points, draining 6-of-7 from distance. He torched Kansas for a season-high 30 points (7-of-9 from deep). For good measure, had a 13-assist game at Kansas State and a five-steal game at TCU.
There are, of course, some drawbacks. Butler is considered an “average” athlete, with an average wingspan that could limit his ability to defend multiple positions.
Assuming good health, he has all the tools required to build a solid NBA career.
Jared Butler Profile
Position: Guard Class: Junior Birthdate: Aug. 25, 2000 Hometown: Reserve, La. 2020-21 season averages: 16.7 points (47.1 percent FG, 41.6 percent 3-point, 78.0 percent FT), 4.8 assists, 3.3 rebounds, 2.0 steals. Height: 6-foot-3 Weight: 190 Wingspan: 6-foot-4 NBA comps: Bryn Forbes, Darius Garland, George Hill What they’re saying: “He’s a complete player. He can guard, he can score midrange, he can score at the basket, and he’s a deadly 3-point shooter. . .. I thought we could have done a better job of forcing him into taking those 2s.” – Gonzaga coach Mark Few, to reporters after the national championship game