The acquisition of Rasual Butler immediately puts the the Clippers’ starting small forward spot in play.
Butler would undeniably give the Clippers’ starting unit a headier defensive presence on the perimeter and a greater ability to stretch the floor offensively. Mike Dunleavy has been looking for a small forward who can do two things: hit the corner 3 and defend.
With Butler, the Clips get a shooter who drained 71 out of 158 last season (44.9%) from the corners, and a defender whose length, quick feet, and instincts enable him to stay in front of the league’s quicker SFs — and funnel those he can’t into the teeth of interior D.
Butler doesn’t arrive in Los Angeles without some serious shortcomings. Butler was a lousy rebounder when ranked as a shooting guard. As a small forward, he’s downright atrocious. For those who want to see the Clippers get out and run, that deficiency in Butler’s game — along with his average handle (at best) — won’t do much to ignite the break. Butler is far more effective in a halfcourt game. Although he can space the floor, Butler doesn’t have the vision or finesse to create shots for others, and can’t honestly be characterized as the glue guy the Clippers need at the fulcrum of their offense.
All that said, placing Butler to Eric Gordon’s right along the perimeter, should help EJ tremendously, as defenses will have to think twice before leaving Butler alone in the corner. Whereas Thornton is useless without the ball in his hands, Butler demands attention from 20 feet. In Las Vegas, we saw that Blake Griffin (like most PFs) struggles with double-teams. Situating Butler in the right corner will prevent defenses from collapsing on Griffin down on the block. If they do, Griffin has demonstrated the skills and wherewithal to find his shooters against pressure. Who’d you rather have as Blake’s intended target — Al Thornton or Rasual Butler?
||Def Rtg1||3p%||REB Rate
1Defensive Rating: An estimate of points allowed per 100 possessions, according to Basketball Reference
2Win Shares: An estimate of the number of wins contributed by a player, according to Basketball Reference