The NBA Draft Blog Scouting Report takes a look at a player who has taken every opportunity to increase his draft stock since the end of the basketball season – Marquette’s Jimmy Butler. A great Big East Tournament, a solid NCAA Tournament and the MVP of the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament, Butler has shown that he can play with anybody. Not spectacular, but just an all-around good effort every time out makes Butler a pleasure to watch. Impressing a lot of people lately, does Butler have enough to be a first-round pick? Let’s take a look at the report for Jimmy Butler:
Jimmy Butler, Marquette – Senior
Forward - 6’7, 220
15.7 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 2.3 apg, 49.0% FG, 78.3% FT, 34.5% 3FG
Perimeter Shooting- In his 3 years at Marquette, Butler increased his consistency from the perimeter enough that he became a legitimate mid-to-long range threat. He has a very smooth stroke, gets good lift and rotation on the shot, and can consistently hit the 15-18 foot jumper. He needs to do a better job creating his shot from the perimeter, but he does do a good job using screens well to get good looks. Also, he needs to work more on moving without the ball, looking for holes in the defense where he can get a good look at the basket.
Ballhandling/Hands/Penetration- Butler handles the ball well, not trying to do more than he is capable of and doing a good job protecting the ball. While much stronger going to his right hand, he does have a decent left. He has good hands, always has them out and ready, and can handle tough passes. He doesn’t have a great first step, or great speed, but he finds ways of getting past his defender, usually by being patient and waiting for an opening, or using very good head and ball fakes.. Once he gets past his man, he is improved greatly at stopping and hitting the mid-range jumper, but he doesn’t have the kind of speed to beat the help defenders before he gets position. As I discuss more below, because of this he has gotten very good at penetrating and kicking the ball out. If he does get to the basket, he can finish strong and absorb contact.
Rebounding/Passing- Butler is a very good offensive rebounder with an excellent idea of positioning and anticipating where misses will go. He uses his body well to create space to go after the ball, goes strong and secures the ball, all while giving him the opportunity to get a strong second shot. Butler is also a strong passer – seeing the court very well and anticipating where his teammates will get a good look at the rim. His biggest improvement this season, as mentioned above, was his ability to penetrate into the lane and find an open teammate on the perimeter for an open jumper. He does need to make sure not to lock on his teammates though allowing good defenders to jump the passing lane.
Free Throw Shooting – One of the strongest parts of his game is his ability to get to the free throw line and convert. He uses head and ball fakes well and knows how to draw contact – either with great use of head and ball fakes, or by positioning his body in a way where defenders need to foul him. While there is still room for him to improve his percentage, almost 80% is very good.
Perimeter Defense- Butler is a very good perimeter defender, not because he excels at any one thing, but he always gives top effort and knows his man’s tendencies before playing them. He always positions himself well, keeps his feet and hands active, knows when he can give his man some space on the outside, and anticipates movements very well. He doesn’t have great foot speed or lateral movement, but does an excellent job playing angles and forcing his man into help defenders. He is a very good off-ball defender, playing passing lanes well and doing an excellent job denying his man. He could be a step better closing on shooters, but he always gives full effort, making sure his hands are up trying to challenge the shot. He also needs to be more mindful about falling for ball fakes when guarding a slasher on the outside.
Rebounding- Butler is an excellent rebounder for his size – he uses his body well, looks to box out before going for the ball and always goes after the ball instead of waiting for it. While he will most likely be guarding out on the perimeter in the NBA, he still has great instincts for missed shots and should be able to out-hustle others to long misses.
Butler runs the court very well and has shown the ability to sport up for a jumper on the wing or fill a lane to the rim and finish. He isn’t a good-enough ballhandler to lead the break, but if he gets the ball at around 15 feet, he can take it all the way in. He does a good job getting back in transition defense, positioning himself well to cut off passes and stopping the ball allowing his help to come.
Summary & Intangibles
Athleticism – Above Average
BB IQ – High
Butler is a great example of how consistent effort translates into success. You would be hard-pressed to identify any time he is on the court and not giving everything he has. While he is not great at any one thing, he does a very good job doing the little things a team needs to be successful. This isn’t to say he’s not skilled, he is. He has become a good mid-range threat on offense, is a very good rebounder and a solid defender capable of guarding multiple positions. Add to all this Marquette’s recent history of unheralded players becoming successful at the NBA level, and it is safe to say Butler will hear his name called early in the second round, most likely in the 35-40 range.
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