76ers Draft Profile: Jared Butler
Heads up Sixers fans, while all of us sit back and watch the USA Olympic Basketball Team and wonder who Ben Simmons will be traded for, don’t forget about the NBA Draft. After such a stellar regular season the Sixers grabbed the 28th pick in this year’s draft. Despite multiple reports that the Sixers will trade out of pick 28, there are a ton of great picks for Philly at the end of the first round. Few of them fit as best as the NCAA tournament champion combo guard, Jared Butler.
Before breaking down what makes Jared Butler such a great fit for Philly, let’s talk about what Daryl Morey should be looking for in this year’s draft. This year’s draft class is undeniably very deep at the guard position, with tons of great prospects littered throughout the first round. The biggest need for the Sixers, whether it be through a trade or the draft, is a playmaking guard.
Jared Butler is a 6’3″, 195-pound combo guard coming off his junior year at Baylor. In his final season with the Bears Jared Butler averaged nearly 17 points, 5 assists, and 2 steals a game. His shooting splits are just as impressive, knocking down around 42-percent of his shots from deep, and 47-percent from the rest of the field. Currently Butler is ranked as the draft’s fifth best point guard. Not to mention, Butler spearheaded a Baylor Bears team that would go on to win a national championship against Gonzaga. A game that saw Butler lead all scorers with 22 points, and lead all passers with seven assists.
What really makes Jared Butler specifically appetizing to the Sixers in my opinion is how easily his game transitions to the NBA-level. His ceiling certainly isn’t as high as some of the other guards in this class, but his kit will translate so smoothly to the NBA that he’ll make an impact on whatever team drafts him. For a Philly team that is in win-now mode, drafting a player that’s ready to make a difference for a team now could pay dividends.
When breaking down Jared Butler’s offensive skill set one thing stands out above the rest, shot creation. Butler has good quickness and great ability with the ball in his hands, but what sets it apart is his ability to shoot off moves to either side. Jared’s shot is tight and smooth, and Butler’s arsenal of moves can get his shot off easily from either side. Butler’s balance is unmatched, and routinely uses a great hop to either side to tee off a shot from any range.
That range for Jared Butler seems almost limitless at times. Pair an already NBA-caliber jump shot with some of the best footwork in this year’s class and Butler’s shooting splits make even more sense. While 42-percent from three is certainly impressive, Butler averaged just over six shots from deep shooting at that accurate of a clip.
Jared Butler likes to go to his hop step to either side to get open looks from three, but the former Bear is just as reliable in catch-and-shoot situations. One of his most hidden talents goes back to his high basketball-IQ. Butler is one of the best players in this draft at curling and fading on off-ball screens. When he does that, he frees himself up for open catch-and-shoot threes. If Philly does land him, look for Butler to flare off screens to the corner where he is lethal.
While Jared Butler is certainly one of the best scoring guards in the draft, his passing ability still needs work. Butler averaged three turnovers this season, with many of his errand passes coming off of panic situations with the shot clock winding down. Butler is very good in isolation situations, but goes to them too often instead of looking to facilitate. If you take away his three pointers, only 17 percent of Butler’s made shots were assisted on. Luckily the Sixers, Butler’s strengths as a scoring guard heavily outweigh any passing struggles he holds.
The biggest thing that scares me when it comes to Jared Butler’s offensive game is finishing ability. Butler seems to lack true explosiveness around the hoop. Jared hesitates when confronted by length and tight spaces around the basket, leading to poor shots. Last season Butler only converted around 53-percent of shots in the paint, and scoring in and around the hoop only gets tougher at the NBA level.
Defensively, Jared Butler embodies the definition of a combo guard. His 6’3″ frame and big hands allow him to be a straight ballhawk on the defensive end. His lateral quickness routinely limited any sort of penetration, and opponents last season shot just 32-percent from the field when guarded by Butler.
What makes Jared Butler such an intriguing defensive prospect is his ability off the ball. Butler has one of the highest basketball IQs of all the guards in this year’s draft. Jared’s rotations are unmatched, and are what garnered a majority of his steals. On-ball defense relies heavily on athletic ability, but to be able to get steals and deflections in passing lanes is almost all IQ. Butler thrives in passing lanes when on weak side, and sees the court well. Jared’s bread and butter is picking off kick-out’s and taking them for dunks, a trait I am positive many Sixer fans are used to seeing.
Butler has proven himself as one of the best combo guards in the nation last season in route to a nation championship, but certainly has his weak points. Regardless, if Daryl Morey does select a prospect at 28, hearing Jared Butler’s name would make me a bit more excited for next year’s 76ers team.
Mandatory Credit: ESPN, Michael Conroy.