UTAH JAZZ

What Are Jazz Getting In Baylor Guard Jared Butler?

Jul 29, 2021, 10:25 PM | Updated: Jul 30, 2021, 1:33 am
Utah Jazz draft pick Jared Butler out of Baylor (Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/NCAA Photos via Getty Im...
Utah Jazz draft pick Jared Butler out of Baylor (Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)
(Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Utah Jazz may very well have gotten the steal of the draft when they selected Jared Butler with the 40th pick in the second round of the NBA Draft.

Butler was considered a top-20 prospect by most outlets but fell in the draft due to a heart condition he’d been diagnosed with coming out of high school.

Sources also told KSL Sports that some teams had significant concerns about the junior guard’s knees upon leaving Baylor.

After committing to Alabama where the heart issue was found, Butler transferred to Baylor where he was cleared to play.

“We’re excited to add him to the Utah Jazz,” Jazz general manager Justin Zanik said about Butler’s heart concerns after leaving Baylor. “I don’t want to get into any other of those details. We feel really good about him, so we’re excited to have him.”

Despite the physical concerns, Butler became one of the most productive and winningest players in college basketball.

The guard was a two-time All-Big 12 team selection, a Big-12 All-Defensive team member, and was named the NCAA Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player after leading the Bears to the NCAA championship over Gonzaga in April.

Butler averaged 16.7 points, 4.8 assists, and 3.3 rebounds at Baylor as a junior, including a 22 point, seven assist performance in the championship game.

“He’s got a varied skill set that he’s displayed at the highest levels of college basketball with a lot of experience playing in really big games,” Zanik said. “He has produced in big games, he’s a great leader and a great teammate.”

The Baylor guard has an incredible feel for the game, reading opposing defenses and comfortably taking whatever is given to him. He’s a threat both as a scorer and playmaker for his teammates, knocking down better than 40 percent of his three-point shots as a junior while also dishing out nearly five assists per game.

Butler has excellent ballhandling skills, easily navigating the floor against a variety of defensive looks in college, and rarely gets sped up. His tight handle and large collection of dribble moves allow him to break down defenders both when attacking the paint and stepping back for threes.

Butler’s shooting is a true threat with the ball in his hands and in catch and shoot situations, allowing him to create his own shot, and space the floor for players around him. He has a quick and fluid release which should translate seamlessly to the NBA.

As a playmaker, Butler has a strong feel for both timing and space, throwing creative passes to his teammates on the perimeter and in the paint off the dribble.

After the draft, the Jazz said they liked the guard’s experience at Baylor and his ability to adjust on the fly.

“I’m not sure there’s a situation that he hasn’t seen at some level,” Zanik said. “He has the skill set, the physicality, and the demeanor to be able to handle those new things really well.”

Defensively Butler is aggressive on the ball at the point of attack and uses his 6’3 frame to stay in front of bigger guards. He’s a ballhawk in the passing lanes averaging 2.0 steals per game and had 11 games as a junior where he had three steals or more.

He lacks elite size for a two-guard, standing 6’3 with a 6’4 wingspan which could limit his defensive upside and ability to finish against bigger players in the NBA.

And, at 21 years old, he doesn’t have the same upside as some of the other players in the draft.

At the beginning of the night, it seemed like a long shot that Butler would still be on the board at 30. However, the Jazz got their man with the 40th pick, plus two additional future second-round picks by trade back with the Memphis Grizzlies in what turned out to be a terrific draft night for the new front office.

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