UTAH JAZZ

21. Jazz Rookie Jared Butler

Sep 29, 2021, 3:29 PM

Utah Jazz rookie Jared Butler (Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images)...

Utah Jazz rookie Jared Butler (Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images)

(Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Utah Jazz open their season on October 20, just three weeks from today. With the clock ticking, we look at 50 things for Jazz fans to be excited about leading up to the 2021-22 NBA season. Coming in at number 21, Jazz rookie Jared Butler.

Jazz Rookie Jared Butler

Jared Butler is getting his first taste of life on the NBA floor during training camp after missing the Salt Lake City and Las Vegas Summer leagues.

Butler was drafted by the Jazz with the 40th pick in the second round of July’s draft, though he was expected to be selected much higher.

Concerns about Butler’s heart forced him to go through the NBA’s Fitness-To-Play protocol leading up to the draft, and though he was cleared by the league’s doctors over the summer, he wasn’t left with an opportunity to work out for teams before the draft.

Furthermore, concerns about the guard’s knees also pushed him down some team’s draft boards.

However, after sitting out the summer while working his way back onto the court, Butler has been given a clean bill of health by the Jazz and has earned the praise of his new teammates during OTAs and training camp.

“I didn’t realize how good he was,” Jazz star Donovan Mitchell said of Butler. “Obviously I’ve seen him on TV but it’s different in the NBA. He’s going to be really good.”

Butler was a star at Baylor during his three-year career. The guard likely would have been drafted after his sophomore season, but when the team’s run was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Butler returned to college where he led Baylor to the NCAA championship while warning Most Outstanding Player.

“One of the unique things about Jared is he’s played, and he’s won,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. “He’s played with other really good players, and he knows what it takes for a team to win.”

But despite the positive early impressions the guard has made, it may be a while before he earns significant playing time on the Jazz roster.

With Mitchell and Mike Conley both making the All-Star team last season, and Jordan Clarkson and Joe Ingles finishing 1-2 in the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year voting, the Jazz backcourt is already the most talented in the league.

Outside of injury or rest, that leaves little room for either Butler to carve out a role in the team’s rotation in his rookie season.

“For Jared, part of it is patience,” Snyder warned. “You can be really competitive and hungry, and still be patient.”

Not finding the floor would be a significant change for the guard after averaging 29 minutes per game in 94 outings for the Bears, including 81 starts. Butler contributed 16.7 points, 4.8 assists, and 3.3 rebounds during Baylor’s championship run as a junior.

But not seeing significant minutes won’t be the only thing the rookie has to adjust to according to the veteran Ingles.

“The travel schedule and games, I don’t know how many college games you play a year maybe 30 or 40 or so,” Ingles said of adjusting to the increased workload in the NBA. “Obviously that’s something that you can only accumulate by actually doing it.”

While there will be a learning curve for Butler during his rookie season with the Jazz, Conley offered faith in the guard’s abilities.

“He picks up on stuff pretty quickly,” Conley said.

“Hopefully, when he gets his opportunity he’ll be ready to go.”

Butler will make his debut for Jazz fans on Saturday during the team’s live practice broadcast on Zoom. He will get his first taste of NBA competition on Monday against the San Antonio Spurs in the Jazz preseason opener.

When Butler sees the floor during the regular season may be dependent on outside factors, but his growth throughout his rookie season is one of the top storylines to watch ahead of opening night.

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21. Jazz Rookie Jared Butler