3. Versatile defender
Despite not initially being regarded as a standout athlete by most scouts prior to entering the league, Jimmy Butler has worked mightily to cement himself as one of the most versatile wing defenders in basketball.
For over the last eight years and counting, the 6’8″, 232-pound forward has demonstrated the ability to play solid on-ball defense against the majority of his assignments. In addition to a high level of strength, IQ and awareness, the four-time All-Defensive Second Team selection has developed a hefty reputation for being one of the most dangerous threats when it comes to disrupting the passing lanes and garnering steals with his active hands.
This includes scoring opportunities out in transition, as Butler possesses the dexterity to make his opponents pay by turning defense into offense within the blink of an eye.
"“I take a lot of pride in that actually,” Butler once said in an interview during his tenure with the Minnesota Timberwolves when asked about how much it means to be regarded as one of the top two-way players in the game today. “I love the physicality that you can play with, the effort…I do take it personal. Every bucket that someone scores on me whether it’s in the iso or pick-and-roll, I get really angry…I wanna be great at that end of the floor.”"
Although the Rockets utilize a switch-heavy scheme more often than a traditional man-to-man defense, the addition of Butler would provide Houston with an elite-level wing defender that they could throw at any team whenever P.J. Tucker sits on the bench (if Tucker remains).
As a much longer, athletic option that they have not had in the wake of Trevor Ariza‘s departure, Butler displays the readiness to fit perfectly in Houston’s current system by holding his own against the likes of smaller and shifty guards when directly called upon to switch onto them.
He’d also emerge as an effective option against big men on the low block, as one could argue that Butler has made a significant impact on the defensive end at every stop of his career.
During Butler’s first season in Philadelphia, the 76ers defended 8.9 points per 100 possessions better with the defensive stalwart on the floor — while the Timberwolves defended 6.8 points per 100 possessions better with Butler on the court in 2017-18.