After a strong sophomore season as Ohio States starting point guard, Jamar Butler
was forced to take a backseat as a junior, moving to the off-guard position to make room for the highly-touted Mike Conley. Now a senior, with Conley off to the pros, Butler is back at his natural position, and has really stepped up for the Buckeyes. His production and efficiency are up across the board, and hes leading the team in both scoring and assists. Among draft prospects in our database, Butler ranks fifth in assists per game, pure point guard ratio and assist to turnover ratio, and is the only prospect in the top-5 in all three categories.
As a point guard, Butlers style could best be described as solid but unspectacular, as his primary focus is on managing his teams offense while minimizing mistakes, not making many flashy plays. He has a very controlled way about his game, possessing strong ball-handling ability with an assortment of crossovers and behind-the-back moves, though he only uses them when absolutely necessary. He keeps the ball close to him and low to the ground, rarely committing a turnover from mishandling the ball. In the half-court, Butler is very much a pick-and-roll point guard, creating the majority of his offense and offense for others out of pick-and-roll and pick-and-pop situations. He reads these situations well and does a good job creating open shots for both himself and his teammates out of these situations. In addition, Butler also does a good job keeping the ball moving and maintaining spacing in the half-court, finding open three-point shots for his teammates consistently through good ball movement. Butler definitely has somewhat of a laid-back approach to his point guard game, as he doesnt create much through drive-and-dishing, not spending much time in the lane in general on the offensive end. In transition, Butler keeps his head up and makes strong, precise passes, showing a nice knack for one-handed passes and alley-oop lobs.
As for his own offense, Butler is predominantly an outside shooter, with a staggering 63% of his field-goal attempts coming from behind the three-point arc. Hes shooting a strong 42% from behind the arc on the season, and has pretty close to textbook form on his shot. One thing to notice with his jump-shot is that Butler always gets his feet underneath him and almost never takes an off-balanced shot, while rarely taking contested shots either. He gets most of his outside shots by dribbling off high screens in pick-and-roll situations, pulling up smoothly in space where he consistently makes the defense pay. He also gets a fair share of his shots by spotting up, though he rarely will pull-up on his man in isolation situations.
In terms of attacking the basket, Butler doesnt do much of that, almost never breaking his man down in isolation, as he doesnt have an explosive first step he isnt overly athletic in general. If Butler ever is taking the ball to the basket, its off a high screen, where he does a good job using hesitation dribbles to gain additional separation, changing speeds well once in the lane. At the rim, Butler gets very little lift off the floor, so he has trouble finishing over defenders, while he doesnt possess noteworthy creativity either, so hes not a great finisher at the rim in general. He relies on his right-handed floater in the lane often, which he hits fairly consistently, and shows good touch on. Butler shows good touch at the rim when he gets out in transition as well, where he doesnt have to deal with as much defense at the basket. Butler doesnt attack the rim much, but he pulls up from mid-range even less, with almost all of his offense coming within five feet of the basket or from behind the arc.
On the defensive end, Butler has some room for improvement, showing an inconsistent defensive stance, which can appear somewhat lackadaisical at times, and not really consistently applying himself as much as one would like. He doesnt fight very hard through screens, and could show a lot more effort with his lateral movement, being beat by low-conference guards at times. Hell never be a great defender, as he is average at best athletically, but he definitely can apply himself much more than he currently does. To his credit, he shows good awareness and doesnt lose his man without the ball, while also making impact in the passing lanes with his hands.
A senior, Butler will be automatically eligible for the draft this year, and seems to be a perfect candidate for the Portsmouth pre-draft camp, where he can try to stand out more individually as a player. He has a lot of good things going for him, most notably his outside shot and style of managing offense, which is what many teams look for in a backup point guard, but he will need to show consistency from NBA three-point range and improved defense to have a real chance at that kind of role. At this stage, Butler likely projects as an undrafted free agent, though he should have ample chance to prove himself to NBA executives in pre-draft camps, workouts, training camps, and the summer league. If he doesnt make it, he looks to have high-level potential for European basketball.