New Orleans Pelicans fans have voted and the results are in. Excluding E.J. Liddell, John Butler is the most popular choice for the team’s available two-way contract. (Dereon Seabron agreed to the other one shortly after the conclusion of the 2022 NBA draft.)
Through the first four games of summer league, John Butler had nine points in about 34 minutes of play to his name. He then exploded for 25 points on 9 for 9 shooting — including a perfect 6 for 6 from 3-point territory— in the final exhibition contest.
The allure is understandable. It’s not every day that you see a 7’1 player stuff a stat sheet with such remarkable accuracy from long range.
With 1982 career makes, Dirk Nowitzki stands as the best deep threat seven-footer in league history. Behind the German, the drop-off is steep, with some combination of Channing Frye, Kristaps Porzingis and Brook Lopez following and then Andrea Barganani, Frank Kaminsky and Meyers Leonard probably falling in line after them.
This isn’t to say that Butler is remotely guaranteed to crack the above list. In his lone season at Florida State, Butler averaged 5.9 points and 1.1 three-point field goals. His collegiate bests in both categories (16 points, 4-5 3s) came against Notre Dame last March.
As we witnessed in Las Vegas, Butler has to get bigger and stronger before he can contribute real rotation minutes in the NBA. Opponents were able to move him far too easily, with even guards grabbing rebounds around him after dislodging him positionally.
However, as Brandon Ingram has proven in his three years in New Orleans, John Butler doesn’t need to add an inordinate amount of mass, just enough to be able to stand his ground. If he can do that while expanding his basketball knowledge .... yeah, it’s understandable why so many fans want to bet on the tantalizing prospect despite the number of limitations currently about his body and game.
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