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There's a lot to like about potential Sixers draft target Butler

/ by Noah Levick
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A scouting report on NBA draft prospect Jared Butler: 

  • Position: Guard 
  • Height: 6-2.25 (without shoes) 
  • Weight: 193  
  • School: Baylor  

Butler received the excellent news this week that he’s been medically cleared by the NBA’s fitness-to-play panel after initially being flagged. 

With that significant hurdle out of the way, he should be rewarded for returning to Baylor for his junior year and helping lead his team to the national championship. Butler averaged 16.7 points and 4.8 assists per game, and he also earned the Most Outstanding Player award for the Final Four.

A projected second-round pick when we profiled him last year, there’s a good chance Butler is off the board when the Sixers pick at No. 28.

Strengths

Butler has an advanced handle. He’s a smooth player but also skilled at changing pace and beating defenders with a diverse array of moves.

As both a pull-up and off-the-catch shooter, Butler is impressive. His jumper is simple and appears to require minimal effort, although the release is a bit low. Over his first two college seasons, Butler made 41 percent of his field goals and 36.7 percent of his three-point tries. Those numbers for his junior season improved to 47.1 percent and 41.6 percent, respectively, better aligning with the sense that he’s a sweet shooter. 

Butler led the Big 12 in steals and posted a 3.7 steal percentage. Though it remains to be seen whether he’ll be able to defend larger guards in the NBA, it’s encouraging that he has the defensive instincts necessary to force so many turnovers.

 

Baylor was no one-man show — likely lottery pick Davion Mitchell was among the other key contributors for the national champs — but Butler was poised and productive in big games, which bodes well for his odds of stepping into an NBA rotation as a rookie. He accumulated 94 games of high-level college experience and will turn 21 years old next month. 

Weaknesses 

Since he’s not very explosive, it’s fair to wonder whether Butler’s shot creation will be limited in the NBA. It’s fine if his primary offensive role is sprinting around off-ball screens, firing three-point shots and attacking overeager closeouts, but Butler’s game loses a little luster if his ball handling talent is mostly neutralized by NBA size and athleticism. 

Butler has a 6-foot-4 wingspan and will be smaller than the majority of two-guards. If he’s only able to guard opposing point guards in most situations, it would be a minor tick against him. 

His jump in efficiency this past season was great, but is it sustainable? And does he have more room to develop? A pessimistic response to one or both questions wouldn’t be unfair. NBA front offices are always infatuated with upside, which Butler does not exude. 

Fit 

The opinion here is Butler would have a legitimate shot at becoming part of the Sixers’ rotation as early as Year 1.

Whether or not every positive aspect of his game in college conveys, there’s a lot to like with Butler, especially for a team that could use perimeter scoring. Again, we'll note he might not last until the 28th pick.