The day after a draft in just about every sports league in the United States brings one thing: grades of the picks by national media.
Friday was no different following Thursday’s 2021 NBA draft, and the wide consensus is that the Utah Jazz hit an absolute home run with their selection of Baylor guard Jared Butler with the 40th overall pick.
Here’s a rundown of what some of the foremost draft experts in the country had to say about the pick.
Chad Ford listed the Jazz as one of his “Winners” from the draft, writing, “I cringed when the Jazz traded the 30th pick in the draft to Memphis with Baylor’s Jared Butler sitting there. Butler, on pure talent, is a top-20 prospect and the perfect fit backing up Mike Conley and Donovan Mitchell.”
Of course, as Ford observed, “Butler was still on the board” when the Jazz were on the clock with the 40th pick they had gotten from Memphis (they also got two future second-round picks).
Concluded Ford: “I assume he slid because of medical concerns, but the Jazz are comfortable with the information the NBA has provided. In fact, I think they expect him to come in and contribute next year.”
The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie and John Hollinger also loved the pick.
Wrote Vecenie, who had Butler ranked as the 17th-best prospect: “Butler is such a tailor-made fit as a combo scoring guard with a little bit more for today’s NBA. His ability to hit shots off the catch and off movement will translate well to playing next to stars. His ability to create his own shot with his tight handle out of isolation will make him useful running the show occasionally with bench units. On top of that, he’s a hard worker on defense and a smart passer. This is an easy skill set to make work in today’s NBA.”
Hollinger was downright excited about the pick, writing, “Yes!!! Great pick for Utah ... at this point in the draft the risk of a player failing due to lack of talent far exceeds any risk of him failing due to injury. Butler gives the Jazz a high-level combo guard who can play next to Donovan Mitchell or Mike Conley, and could be good enough to play rotation minutes right away.”
The Jazz were just one of two teams (the Cleveland Cavaliers were the other) to receive an A+ grade for the night from CBS’ Colin Ward-Heninger.
Wrote Ward-Heninger: “They ended up with an absolute gem in Butler. ... Butler was rated as high as the teens on some draft boards, so for the Jazz to get him at No. 40 — and not have to pay him first-round money — is a huge win.”
ESPN conducted a panel of several reporters in which a variety of questions analyzing the draft were asked, such as “What lottery fit pick do you immediately like?” and “What team gets an ‘A’ grade from this draft?”
On the question of “Which second-round pick will most likely be an All-Star first,” Myron Medcalf picked Butler.
“The Milwaukee Bucks just won the NBA title with Jrue Holiday, a 6-foot-3 defensive tyrant who made 39% of his 3-pointers this season. Jared Butler, a 6-foot-3 guard who will turn 21 next month, led Baylor to a national title last season after making 42% of his 3-pointers,” Medcalf wrote. “If he can develop into a more consistent defender — Baylor’s opponents committed turnovers on one-fourth of their possessions with Butler on the floor — and maintain his shooting stroke, he can become a high-level NBA player.”
On the question of “What surprised you most from this draft?,” Andrew Lopez also wrote about Butler.
“Didn’t think the NCAA tournament’s most outstanding player would slide that far into the second round. ... Still, his college resume speaks for itself: third-team All-American in 2020 and a consensus first-team All-American in 2021 as he led the Bears to a national championship.”