Dual Warnings: This is quite the scroll down and, as with all Jimmy Butler related material, there is some homerism. Be warned!
I absolutely love Prada’s work here on SB Nation. He’s one of the best in breaking down team strategies and providing examples of what does and does not work. But his analysis of Jimmy Butler in relation to ‘3&D` guys is unfortunately a bit short-sighted.
On the 51-60 page of the 2017 Player Rankings, this is what Prada says:
Where you rank Butler depends on how you think 3/D wings like him will be valued in four years. A lot of people think those players are scarce and therefore should be valued higher. I don't deny their importance to a team, but I think being a great 3/D player is more about nurture than nature. Great point guards and pristine spacing can turn good shooters into great shooters, and a coach's scheme can also make a wing look better defensively. Will there such a huge difference in the future between Jimmy Butler and, say, Gerald Henderson if the latter ends up on a good team?
For starters, the very classification of Jimmy as a 3&D guy ignores his high finish rate of shots at the basket, his offensive rebounding skills, his excellent free throw rate and his ability to put the ball on the floor and attack the basket. He’s not a prolific ball-handler by any means, but he’s a smart enough player to know who he can take off the dribble and how to attack the basket when coming off of a screen. Specifically looking at the Gerald Henderson comparison, Henderson doesn’t even shoot three pointers and has had one season equal to Butler’s now career FG%. Henderson does have an all-around game that, if on a better team, perhaps he would capitalize on, but the fact is Butler plays for the Bulls and has put in the hard work to become as good a player as he is. Furthermore, the Bulls had neither ‘great point guards’ nor ‘pristine spacing’ considering the corpse of Kirk Hinrich, non-PG Nate Robinson and the rookie Marquis Teague were manning the 1 position last year.
As for the list of players above him, I’ll run down their names, provide a simple ‘Yes’ for guys that are appropriately ranked ahead, ‘No’ for guys who I believe are not and ? for guys I’ve never heard of because I don’t follow college basketball (and I think it’s preposterous to make predictions on high school players):
57. Dante Exum ?
56. Andrew Harrison ?
55. Tristan Thompson No
54. Chandler Parsons Yes (I am really really high on this guy)
53. Ty Lawson Yes
52. Enes Kanter No
51. Mike Conley No (I don’t think he’ll get much better than he is now, and Butler can pass him.)
50.Jeremy Lamb NO
49.Michael Kidd-Gilchrist No
48.Tyreke Evans No (not that he doesn’t have the skills...)
47.Eric Gordon No
46.Eric Bledsoe No (Don’t get the fascination with this guy...)
45.John Henson No (But I admit I don’t know much about him)
44.Victor Oladipo ? (Again, I don’t follow NCAA)
43.Larry Sanders Yes
42.Damian Lillard Yes (maybe)
41.Tobias Harris ... No (though I REALLY like this guy)
40.Harrison Barnes Yes
39.Chris Bosh No (See Ziller’s comment. And For some reason I don’t even think he’ll still be playing in 2017.)
38.Bradley Beal No (show me more)
37.Al Horford Yes (We’re approaching the territory where it’s going to get obvious)
36.Roy Hibbert Yes... ish
35.Marc Gasol Yes
34.Rajon Rondo Fuck
33.Carmelo Anthony Yes (but I predict he’ll be close to being done. No real basis on that prediction though)
32.Deron Williams No (My money is on him becoming Baron Davis by the time he is 33. And Baron Davis ain’t better than Jimmy Butler)
31.Anthony Bennett ?
30.Ricky Rubio No (Comically bad shooter with a weak frame? No thanks.)
29.Jahlil Okafor ?
28.Greg Monroe Yes
27.Derrick Favors No. (Bored of the ‘he hasn’t had a chance to play!’ argument)
26.Jabari Parker ? (Not that I don’t know him, but again, I don’t follow college or high school)
25.Nerlens Noel ?
24.Kawhi Leonard Yes (but really? The ranking should be THAT far apart???)
23.Jrue Holiday... No (Just think he’s overrated and we have this nasty tendency to fall in love with young PGs now days.)
22.DeMarcus Cousins I guess... (WTF? At least provide me with some evidence that he’s going to stop being a knucklehead before projecting him so high. I don’t care how talented he already is. )
21.LaMarcus Aldridge Yes
20.John Wall Yes
19.Serge Ibaka Yes
18.Jonas Valanciunas Yes (I’m a big fan)
17.Brook Lopez Probably (okay, that wasn’t a simple yes or no.)
16.Chris Paul Yes (he might literally have one functioning knee by then, but he is still really really good.)
15.Dwight Howard Yes (I’ll still make fun of him though.)
14.Julius Randle ?
13.Paul George Yes (and almost exclusively because he’s a superior ball-handler and has super long arms. But #13? Jeez everyone loves him.)
12.Stephen Curry Yes
11.Kevin Love Yes
10.Blake Griffin Yes
9.James Harden Yes (and by the way, I see absolutely no reason why he’s not higher than Westbrook. He’s young enough to become a capable defender... if he applies himself. Of course, I just named a reason... but whatever!)
8.Andrew Wiggins ? (by the way, putting any High School player in the top 10 is silly. I’m guessing someone did a list like this years ago and had O.J. Mayo as a top 10 player.)
7.Anthony Davis Yes (so many people are trying to make arguments for Drummond over Davis. They clearly have no idea how good Davis really is.)
6.Kyrie Irving Yes (though if he can’t stay healthy and play some defense, who knows?)
5.Derrick Rose, YES (Get bent, Flannery. We’re doing a list for 2017, talking about wanting to see him back on the court and yet High School players have high positions on the list. STFU.)
4.Russell Westbrook Yes (not ahead of DRose though.)
3.Andre Drummond Yes (I hate that I really like a player but some foolass drafts him as #3 in the entire NBA in 2017. I read a lot of stupid arguments using Per36 numbers. That stat should be used circumstantially; not for rookies playing 20 minutes per game with good reason. He wasn’t ready to play more regardless of the skills he showed.)
2.LeDouche Yeah yeah
1.Kevin Durant Yes
Obviously I’m a Jimmy Homer (which is Charter Law here on BaB) but I think he’ll be better than at least 15 players ranked ahead of him. Of course, this was a draft list and not a comprehensive list based on collaborative analysis, but these are my thoughts nonetheless.