Jared Butler had a preexisting medical condition that was a cause of concern for NBA teams, but he has been cleared by the NBA’s fitness-to-play panel. Butler is one of the most well-rounded guards in the class. An exceptional shooter who plays with confidence on both ends of the floor, Butler had an illustrious three-year career for the Baylor Bears. He was a Third-team All-American in his sophomore season and would have been selected in the 2020 NBA Draft but chose to return to school for another year. This was a great decision because Butler’s junior season was filled with accolades. Butler averaged 16.7 points, 4.8 assists, 3.3 rebounds, and two steals per game. He made the Big 12 All-Defensive Team; was a unanimous first-team All-American, and won NCAA Final Four Most Outstanding Player while leading Baylor to a championship.
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Name: Jared Butler
School: Baylor Bears
Weight: 195 lbs
Prototype: Two-Way Combo Guard
Butler is a tough defender because he plays with smarts. He improved defensively every season but his junior year was a defensive masterpiece. His quick hands paired with his aggressive play in the passing lanes resulted in several steals. During his junior season, Butler had at least one steal in the first 18 games of the season. Overall, Butler recorded a steal in 24 out of 30 games and had four games with four steals or more. Plays tight, physical, on-ball defense and changes directions well. Butler’s agility allows him to stay in front of quicker guards and cut off driving angles. His aggressive nature allows for him to not be posted up by bigger players but that will change in the NBA.
Despite his lack of length (only a 6’4 wingspan), Butler is terrific on closeouts. He does not bite on pump fakes. He is a great off-ball defender. Has a great understanding of defensive rotations and does not get caught out of position much. Remains calm in transition defense. Butler takes pride in playing defense, he plays with effort and is always looking to get into the action. He is only an ok athlete with a short wingspan so he may struggle on switches and the impact he made off-ball may not translate to the NBA but he will be an instant plug-and-play guy on the defensive side of the ball.
Ball-handling is one of Butler’s strongest traits. He has a tight handle and uses several crossover moves to get around defenders despite lacking high-end athleticism. He is a load to defend in isolation. Great at keeping his defender off-balance by creating space with his dribble. Lethal when stepping into pull-up jumpers off screens. One of the best shooters off the dribble in this class. He is safe with the ball, never gets sloppy or out of control. Keeps his dribble alive in traffic. Defenders won’t find success trying to speed Butler up, plays at his own pace regardless of the defensive look. Breaks defenders down off the dribble with his crossover moves, this allows him to attack the defense in multiple ways. By either attacking the point, pulling up for a mid-range jumper, or hitting a step-back three. Butler’s handle is elite.
Butler is not a traditional point guard but he is a good passer. He played both on- and off-the-ball at Baylor so he was rarely asked to serve as a pure point guard, but he is capable of facilitating. Best at making passes out of the pick and roll. Hits the roll man and excels at making pocket passes. A smart passer, he does not try to get too flashy. Makes the right read consistently and showed nice accuracy and touch on lob passes. Does not possess a special passing ability but it’s effective. Can make all the routine passes of an NBA guard but he has room to improve in this area. Sometimes his passes lack velocity and his skip passes need work. Overall, Butler is a smart passer who will more times than not, make the right decision with the ball.
Court Vision (11/15)
Butler does not have the court vision of a Sharife Cooper or a Josh Giddey but he still ranks near the top of the class. His vision improved every year. In his junior season, he looked more comfortable than ever running the offense. Uses his eyes to manipulate the defense and hit open teammates. Sees the floor extremely well in the pick and roll, this is where he most resembles an NBA lead guard. Hits the roller with lead passes that lead to easy buckets around the rim. Connected on a high number of lobs in his junior season. When he gets into the mid-range off of screens, he keeps his eyes up and hits open shooters on the perimeter. Butler is not viewed as a floor general by NBA teams but his court vision and passing hint at him possibly growing into that role.
Perimeter Shooting (13/15)
Shooting is the strongest aspect of Butler’s game. He has a smooth shooting form and gets a nice lift on his jump shot. His quick release is ideal because it will allow for him to get shots off against the longer defenders in the NBA. He improved his three-point percentage in every season, reaching 41.6 percent from the three-point range in his junior season. Butler is lethal in all scenarios as a shooter. He has excellent range as a shooter, pulling up from NBA distance and beyond with confidence. Has experience getting shots off movement and off screens due to him sharing the backcourt and playing off-ball. In transition, the defense must have eyes on Butler because he’s great at finding open slots around the three-point line. Sets his feet quickly and gets hot in a hurry.
Butler’s ability to shoot off the dribble is his most NBA-ready skill. This is what makes him so dangerous in the pick and roll. If defenders go under the screen, Butler will pull up from three. If they go over the screen, he uses his elite handle to dribble into a mid-range pullup. Heavily utilizes the stepback three, using his handle to create space and get a shot off. Being able to shoot it a high clip both on and off the dribble is a skill that even the most heralded prospects in this class don’t have. He has unlimited range and proved to be an efficient shooter from all areas throughout his career.
Finishing is the biggest hole in Butler’s game. He showed flashes of being a crafty finisher around the rim but it was never consistent. Butler struggled to finish around the bigger bodies and contact on drives often forced him off balance. He is right-handed and rarely finishes with his left hand. Being a capable finisher with both hands is a must if Butler hopes to become a starting point guard. Needs to improve on his floater, only made 38 percent of them this season. Does not get to the free-throw line often because he is more of a finesse finisher. Takes good angles on drives but does not have a lot of burst in his first step so he won’t blow by defenders on drives. Butler’s physical limitations limit his potential as a finisher but he can still improve in this area.
As mentioned in the previous section, Butler is limited athletically. He has good quickness but his speed is average. Butler is not an explosive finisher and he does not have a quick first step. His game is based solely on skills and IQ. He is a below-the-rim finisher who sprinkles in the occasional dunk. Butler’s limited athleticism is the only real question mark in his game. If he can overcome his athletic disadvantages then he will be a fine NBA player.
Basketball IQ (4/5)
Being a three-year college player has its advantages. Butler’s IQ makes him one of the most NBA-ready prospects in this class. He has great intelligence on both ends of the floor. He makes a ton of high IQ plays in every game and is never out of position. Makes the correct reads when in facilitator mode and takes smart shots when he is in attack mode. Rarely ever forces the issue, plays with a steady pace, and never panics. On defense, Butler plays with great smarts. He makes the correct rotations and never lets his man get him out of position. He deflects passes in the passing lane due to his understanding of where his assignment wants to go with the ball. Butler’s IQ is the reason why he will be able to make an immediate impact on whatever team he’s drafted to.
Butler is one of the safest picks in the class. He is a well-rounded player who will impact the game in multiple areas. He is arguably the best shooter in the class with one of the best handles. With so much emphasis being put on shooting in today’s game, Butler is tailor-made for this era. He can play and defend both guard positions. His experience playing on and off the ball at Baylor will have him mentally prepared for whatever role a team places him in. If Butler was a better athlete he’d a lock for the lottery. Making yearly progress during his college career is a good sign for his NBA projection. Sometimes the NBA views upperclassmen as players who have nearly reached their peak but Butler’s yearly improvements show that he still has room to grow as a player.
Even while playing for a loaded Baylor team, Butler was able to stand out. His backcourt teammate Davion Mitchell has more draft buzz but it was Butler who led Baylor in the championship game. He scored 22 points, dished out 7 assists, and went 4-9 from the three-point line. Butler thrived in pressure situations during his tenure at Baylor. He found himself with the ball in his hands late in games more than any of his teammates. Butler’s confidence, leadership, and IQ will make it possible for him to carve out an NBA role early. He does not have the high ceiling of some of the other lottery prospects but Butler will be a steady player from day one.
Contenders looking for someone to make an immediate impact should be eyeing Butler. He has experience taking, and making big shots in big games. A team like the Los Angeles Clippers should consider Butler. His scoring, defense, and playmaking fit right in and he can serve as an insurance policy if Reggie Jackson leaves in free agency. The Brooklyn Nets are another team where Butler fits. Spencer Dinwiddie is probably leaving in the off-season so the Nets have to address their backup point guard situation. Kyrie Irving is injury-prone so it would be wise to add depth at the position. The best fit as far as contending teams may be the Philadelphia 76ers. The 76ers lack a secondary playmaker and ball-handler to Ben Simmons. Butler would give them an immediate scoring spark off the bench who can run the offense for the second unit.
Butler has few holes in his game. He’s not a high-upside pick but he does have room to expand it. He needs to become a better passer and improve on his court vision if he’s going to become a lead guard. Getting better as a finisher is pivotal for Butler. His handle and shooting are already top-notch so becoming an above-average finisher would make him a three-level scoring threat. His two-way prowess will keep him around in the NBA for a long time. The worst-case scenario is Butler becoming a 3-and-D role player coming off the bench. Butler could be a player who makes an immediate impact but catches on late as far as reaching his full potential. Butler has so many NBA traits that if he corrects his weaknesses he could see a Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet-like ascension into a starting role.
Final Grade (73/100): Late-First Round Pick
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