If you watched any of the 2021 NCAA men's basketball tournament, you likely watched Baylor and it’s star guards dominate a game or two. Baylor powered through the tournament, eventually beating Gonzaga in the championship game. They were led by their two NBA draft prospects, Davion Mitchell and Jared Butler. Mitchell is projected to be a lottery pick, so dreams of a D. Mitchell and D. Mitchell backcourt may be a bit far-fetched for Jazz fans. Butler, however, is projected to be a late first rounder, and he just might be the type of player the Jazz could strike gold with.
Jared Butler is a winning player. Not only is he a winner because he won the NCAA Championship, or because he won awards left and right in college. He’s a winner because he makes the winning plays. He takes on the toughest defensive assignments. He hits the big shots. He makes the big passes. He’s the kind of player you want on your team, and the kind of player the Utah Jazz should be looking for.
Big 12 @J_Hooper11 is the first person to win all 3 of these awards:— Baylor Basketball (@BaylorMBB) July 6, 2021
✅ Big 12 Athlete of the Year
✅ Big 12 Sportsperson of the Year
✅ Big 12 Scholar-Athlete of the Year
: https://t.co/ME5cYrKU5D#SicEm | #JOY pic.twitter.com/YYz3m1zRI1
Stats and measurements
Weight 193 lbs
Butler has a lot of talent. When you watch him play, a few things stand out. First, you will likely notice his shooting. Equipped with a smooth and pure shooting stroke, Butler shot 41% from deep last year, while taking upwards of six attempts per game. Those attempts weren’t just catch-and-shoot attempts either. Butler can hit shots off movement to his right or left. He can hit them off the dribble in iso. He can pull up and hit threes in the pick & roll. With a quick shooting motion and skills to hit shots in a plethora of situations, it’s easy to predict that Butler’s high level shooting will translate to the NBA.
Second, you may notice Butler’s skill in running an offense. Baylor’s offense was a well-oiled machine, and Jared Butler was a central feature of it. He stands out as a high IQ player, seeing plays before they happen. Butler is adept at maneuvering the pick & roll. If the defender goes under the screen, he’ll shoot without hesitation. If not, he’ll weave through the lane, and utilize a lot of creativity in delivering passes to the big man in tightly defended situations. That’s an ability the Jazz sorely need.
The next thing that might stand out to somebody watchin Jared Butler is his defense. While some may wonder how effective a 6’3” guard may be against NBA talent, Butler’s tape shows a lot of promise. He was an absolute pest on-ball last year, racking up two steals per game, and disrupting a ton of plays. He showed off an impressive ability to move his feet and stay in front of ball handlers, while also being able to contest shots. Butler’s defensive awareness is highly impressive. That’s something that is very hard to teach. Some players just have it, and those are the players who excel at defense in the NBA.
How do the Jazz get him?
A quick scan of many popular NBA draft sites will tell you that Jared Butler is projected to be picked in the late first round, usually being slotted in somewhere between picks 22 and 30. Of course there are some outliers, mocking him in the late lottery, and some going the other way and predicting he falls out of the first round. For myself, I imagine he gets taken somewhere between 22 and 26. In other words, the Jazz would have to be quite lucky for Butler to be available for the last pick of the first round.
That being the case, if the Jazz were enamored with the idea of Butler as a long-term backcourt partner to Donovan Mitchell, they’d have to try to move up a few spots. The end of the first round is a hot spot for NBA trades, as many teams see opportunities to move down, gain assets, and still pick up the player they like. I wonder if the Houston Rockets would make a good trade partner this year, as they have back-to-back picks at 23 and 24. If Houston likes a player that they think could still be available at 30, they may be willing to trade pick 24 for pick 30 and an asset, such as a second round pick or young bench player. That’s a risk to give yet another asset, but if the Jazz see the potential in Butler, they may conclude that he’s worth the risk.