A break down of the ‘Butler Challengers’
The 2018 All-Star game included Jimmy Butler in roster spot only, as he sat the game out despite playing in the regular season games preceding the event.
John Wall, DeMarcus “Boogie” Cousins and Kevin Love all sat out with injury and required subs for Team LeBron. However, Butler was the last minute sidelining which occupied a roster spot for the game.
Players who missed the All-Star cut, like Lou Williams of the Los Angeles Clippers, called out Butler for taking the spot without playing. Butler returned with the challenge of taking the money they would have made in a 1-on-1 game for $100,000, as reported in an ESPN interview.
It was everything you expect from the competitive two guard on the Timberwolves. Now (to the great misfortune of Minnesota) Butler has injured his meniscus and will miss the remainder of the regular season.
In the spirit of trying to take the minds of Timberwolves fans off Butler’s injury, simultaneously performing hoop’s finest ritual of 1-on-1 deciding the best baller at each playground.
Here are the top snubs in the Western Conference and how they would fair against Butler. The assumption here is that it would be a classic game of 1-on-1, meaning everything is a point less than its traditional worth and possession is make it, take it.
Jimmy Butler vs. Lou Williams
Williams is having a career year for the Clippers, averaging 23.3 points per game and 5.4 assists (both career bests). The combination of speed and scoring mix perfectly to make Williams one of the hottest players in the NBA, especially as of late, scoring 28.2 points per contest in January.
But Butler’s strength is defense, with an ability to lock down an array of opponents. He can take on point guards and power forwards, giving him a severe advantage over the offensively inclined Williams. The Clippers guard simply does not possess the defense to match Butler man-to-man.
Final score: Butler wins 21-10
Jimmy Butler vs. Devin Booker
The Phoenix Suns stud is also putting together a career season, with 24.4 points and 4.8 assists every outing. He is also knocking down 38.2 percent of his triples for the best deep shooting of his young pro campaign. He is also five inches taller than Williams at 6-foot-6 and outweighs him 175 to 210.
Booker has the added ability over Williams of a physical edge. He can present more of a game driving into the lane and can knock shoulders against Butler. The problem here is the same, however, with Booker’s defense leaving much to be desired with a -9.5 net rating this season. Butler can still outplay the sniper with his oppressive defense.
Final score: Butler wins 21-15
Jimmy Butler vs. Chris Paul
This is the most challenging test for Butler, as the Houston Rockets point guard has the best defense of the three challengers. Paul is a tight, antagonizing defender who sticks with an opponent. He is also knocking down 39 percent of his outside shots while attempting a career high 6.7 threes per outing.
Paul can match with Butler on the defensive end and is the superior 3-point shooter.
Final score: Paul wins 21-19
Photo: Minnesota Timberwolves’ Jimmy Butler (23) drives on Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) during the second quarter of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018 in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Andy Clayton-King)