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Film Breakdown: Jared Butler

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A deep dive into Jared Butler’s game

Baylor v Gonzaga Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

The newest member of the Utah Jazz, Jared Butler, garners a lot of attention for a second-round pick. It’s not often that a player picked in the 40’s blossoms into an NBA rotation player, much less a starter. Jared Butler isn’t your average 40th pick, though. He was almost universally expected to be drafted in the first round but fell due to health concerns. His game is polished. He is a prolific shooter, a savvy creator, and a strong defender.

Shooting

When asked about his thoughts on the Utah Jazz as a team, Jared Butler responded, “ I like how they shoot a lot of threes.” As a 41.6% three-point shooter himself, Butler is a serious weapon from deep. He is especially dangerous off the catch. Last season, he shot 51.1% in catch & shoot situations.

Butler’s shooting form off the catch is pure, smooth, and consistent. He has a textbook release and a strong base.

Butler has proven his ability to shoot consistently in many different spot-up situations. He was frequently a movement shooter for Baylor, catching and shooting while moving left or right. He’s comfortable shooting with a hand in his face. He has deep, deep range and is not afraid to let it fly from far beyond the arc.

Butler isn’t just a spot-up shooter. He’s comfortable with the ball in his hands, and his shot is lethal off the dribble as well. Being able to pull up and shoot in many different situations is a rare skill for players as young as him to have, and he has it in spades.

You can’t go under the screen against Jared Butler. He will shoot without hesitation when given even a little space.

Butler can get good shots when he has the ball in his hands and get open for spot-up opportunities when he doesn’t. That combination works really well with the Jazz, as it means he can play both on-ball and off-ball, giving him versatility in his offensive role.

This is a rare combination of shooting skills. Not many can shoot off movement, off the dribble, from deep, and under pressure—those who can often are shooting specialists. So drafting a player in the second round who can do all of that and also be a creator is extremely rare.

Offensive Creation

Butler was not just a gunner at college. He was a floor general. As the primary ball handler for Baylor, he was tasked with running the pick & roll, creating shots for himself, and generating offense for his team. Butler has experience with a prolific shooting offense, which bodes well for his fit in Utah.

The Utah Jazz love the pick & roll. Every guard and most of the wings on the team are frequently asked to create from it. Fortunately, Jared Butler knows how to do just that. He is a versatile scorer in the pick & roll. As we’ve seen, defenses have to go over the screen or hedge hard not to allow Butler to pull up. He can also get to the paint or his floater. Butler is incredibly patient and poised, and he keeps his eyes up with a live dribble looking for driving or passing lanes. He’s creative in the lane. He can manipulate the defense with his eyes to get himself or his teammates open.

Butler is also a solid passer in the pick & roll. He prioritizes getting the ball to the roll man and is very creative in finding ways to get the ball where he needs it to go. He has an excellent feel for the timing of the player movement and uses that to his advantage. He loves to make the pocket pass to the roller.

Butler possesses an advanced handle. He can weave in and out of tight traffic while maintaining control. This helps him create in isolation, get easy buckets in transition, and improvise in the pick & roll. His dribble game isn’t based on speed or quickness. It’s about footwork, deception, and side-to-side movement.

Jared Butler is a capable finisher at the rim. He shows his basketball IQ with his crafty finishes around rim protectors. He’s patient, smart, and skillful in the way he gets to the basket. He can avoid contact with acrobatic layups or create space with the threat of his passing ability. He uses cuts, pump-fakes, pass-fakes, and a myriad of dribble moves to get into the lane. He can finish with either hand on either side of the basket.

Butler is a willing passer and sees the court at a high level. He loves to pass to cutters and can hit them in stride. He makes the winning plays, and the right passes.

Butler is fun and creative in the open court. He sees the cutting lanes and passes his teammates into position, finding them easy buckets.

Defense

The Baylor Bears were known for their stingy defense, and at the head of that was Baylor’s star guards, Jared Butler and Davion Mitchell. Butler is a disciplined on-ball defender. He gets low, bodies up, and cuts of driving lanes. He is not afraid to play physically with bigger players, and he has quick hands.

Butler averaged 2.0 steals per game, and many of them came from snagging passes. When he is off-ball, Butler has his head on a swivel. He watches plays develop and sees the rotations that need to be made. He’s the kind of player that makes the winning plays. He rotates to the rim and challenges shots. He dives on the floor for loose balls. He cuts off passing lanes and creates fast breaks. He plays with effort, intelligence, and intention.

Utah Jazz Fit

It’s hard to predict whether Butler will get a rotation spot with the Jazz this year. He’s certainly one of the most NBA-ready rookies in this year’s class, but he is still a rookie. The Jazz have a loaded backcourt of Donovan Mitchell, Jordan Clarkson, and (hopefully) Mike Conley, so minutes at the guard position will be hard to come by. If there are injuries, Butler will definitely see the court.

If he can fight his way into the rotation, Butler will likely play as a secondary creator, a spot-up shooter, and a primary defender. If he can do those three things at a high level, it will be hard for Quin Snyder to keep him off the court.