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The Curious Case of Casual Rasual [Butler]

Rasual Butler Edited

Here’s a piece from numberFire about Wizards small forward Rasual Butler and how his scoring efficiency is a big part of Washington’s success this season.

* * *

Following a trip to the conference semifinals last year, there were plenty of people on board believing the Wizards were a strong threat in the East this season. John Wallanother year older, the addition of Paul Pierce, bringing back Marcin Gortat, cushioning the front court — all strong moves pushing this Washington team in the right direction within an otherwise unguarded conference.

But whether irregular hoops fan or die hard Wizards supporter, those same people couldn’t have predicted the impressive/influential/[insert positive adjective here] production from 35-year-old journeyman Rasual Butler – the last guy added to Randy Wittman’s roster in late October. No one saw it coming, and even Butler’s own calmness on the court would insinuate he didn’t either.

Despite John Wall’s name being a common piece of discussion these days, Butler’s 6.4 nERD is second on the team behind only Gortat (7.1), and the 13-year vet who was out of basketball just two years ago is leading the team in multiple categories, including offensive rating (126), three-point field goal percentage (.534), and win shares per 48 minutes (.194) while averaging just over 21 minutes in 20 games.

The floor general doesn’t go unnoticed, though. As he’s done in the past, Wall has been a master at finding his shooters, and he’s a key factor in the equation that results in Butler seeing more than four feet between he and his defender this season, with an average shot distance of nearly 17.5 feet.

And Butler isn’t just standing out amongst his teammates. Stack him up against other guys (at all positions) this season and you may be surprised. Of players with at least 400 minutes this season, Butler ranks top-10 in offensive rating and true shooting percentage (.682), while posting an 18.9 PER that puts him right in line with guys like Monta Ellis and Kevin Love.

Player Ortg (Rank) 3P% (Rank) TS% (Rank) WS/48 (Rank) OBPM (Rank)
Rasual Butler, 2014-15 126 (7) .534 (6) .682 (6) .194 (12) 3.2 (17)

When the Wizards lost Trevor Ariza to free agency last summer, there was concern regarding who would fill the void on both ends of the floor – an efficient long-range scorer, as well as an effective defender. The Wizards got some of both by signing veteran Paul Pierce, and then received a heaping bonus on offense by making the last-minute decision to add Butler to the squad. He comes in, plays smart, knocks down shots, and stays cool. It’s almost a case of blink and you might miss him.

It’s still early in the curious case of casual Rasuala, but having a savvy and efficient scorer like him coming off the bench is a solid element as to why the Wizards currently sit at second place in the Eastern Conference.

  1. I’m still not entirely sure why I prefer this title or reference when it comes to Butler’s play this season. It’s mostly to do with how no one saw this coming, combined with the fact that he does big things on the court and rarely ever gets emotional — making everything appear, just, casual.  (back)

Iggy Iguodala > Iggy Azalea?

Andre Iguodala was slapped with a technical foul last night after reenacting what he thought the referees (blatantly) missed.

Little did he know he was creating a social media storm a surrounding who’s the better dancer: Iggy Iguodala, or pop star Iggy Azalea?

  1. Totally just made this part up. To my knowledge, there’s no social media storm.  (back)

Love Marcin Gortat Because He Loves Chick-fil-A

I want to get chicken, too, of course. I mean, just because I play, I can’t get chicken? Whoever is listening, I want 12 nuggets, double Chick-fil-A sauce, and the sandwich No. 4 with pepper jack cheese. … I think it’s totally fine. I hope there’s gonna be other companies that’s gonna give out different things in the third quarter, the second and the first, so then we’re gonna have even more crowd, and the crowd’s gonna be even louder. I love that. I’m with them. I’m on the wagon. I wanna get free chicken.

How can you not love Marcin Gortat?

It’s also reassuring to know that one of the most beloved athletes in town recognizes quality condiments. Chick-fil-A sauce is boss.

For the entire story behind this quote, as well as the Wizards’ fourth-quarter Chick-fil-A promotion at Verizon Center, check out this awesome article by Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post.

h/t @HoopDistrictDC for the Vine of Gortat demanding Chick-fil-A from the sidelines.

 

John Wall Looks Off Carmelo to Find Paul Pierce for 3-Pointer

There’s obviously lots to like about this pass from John Wall to Paul Pierce in last night’s 98-83 win over the Knicks at Madison Square Garden. But even more impressive than the look-off to freeze Carmelo Anthony, I think I’m in love with the cohesion of Wall and Pierce after just four games.

 

At the very beginning of the video clip, Pierce isn’t even in the shot. But that doesn’t mean Wall doesn’t see him. He attacks down toward the basket, gives the impression he’s dishing to a shooter in the corner (a play the Wiz like to run) and instead passes back to the arc where Pierce can walk into receiving a pass and blast a wide-open three.

This assist (one of Wall’s seven on the night) was quite delicious.

Assembling the House of Guards: An NBA Fantasy Draft Fable

House of Guards is my team name, but sadly I ended up zero Wiz bros on the squad.

House of Guards is my team name, but sadly I ended up with zero Wiz bros on the squad.

 

For the first time in a long time, I participated in an NBA fantasy league draft with other members of the hoops crew at numberFire.

I’m not entirely sure how these draft fables go over with readers — whether or not they’re entertaining or completely useless — but here’s a trip through the snake drafting process of a novice with the second-overall pick in a 12-team head-to-head format.

And to better set the scene for strategy, the scoring format consists of nine categories: field goal percentage (FG%), free throw percentage (FT%), three-point shots made (3PTM), points scored (PTS), total rebounds (REB), assists (AST), steals (ST), blocked shots (BLK), and turnovers (TO).

Additionally, each roster consists of 13 guys: 10 starters and three bench spots.

Here’t goes.

 

Round 1 (Pick 2) – LeBron James

Not a whole lot of shock and awe going on here. I did contemplate taking longtime man crush Kevin Durant and fighting through the first 12-20 games of the season without him, but that was a tough maneuver given my experience.

It’s LeBron. He’ll get me some of everything. He’s durable. I’m pleased.

 

Round 2 (11) – Nicolas Batum

While Bron Bron was great in the first, I felt the wrath of the snake quite early, as I had to wait another 20 picks before turning in the card on my main man’s wingman.

Heading into the second round, my goal was LaMarcus Aldridge, Kawhi Leonard, and John Wall — probably in that order. Unsurprisingly, Aldridge was gone at 2.4 and Wall was gone at 2.6. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t getting excited about the chance of Leonard falling to me.

Leonard goes at 2.9, then Horford, then I rebound with Nicolas Batum — a versatile running mate alongside James who gives me good minutes, points, rebounds, and decent assist numbers. Another pleasing pick here.

 

Round 3 (2) – Joakim Noah

Immediately after taking Batum, I felt a sense of urgency to go big in the next couple rounds. a

Marc Gasol was available here, and I also really, really thought about Brook Lopez. I ultimately sided with Noah for his rebounds and hustle on defense.

 

Round 4 (11) – Kemba Walker

There was no chance DeAndre Jordan would fall to me this late in the round, but I at least wished for it. In terms of what I thought even slightly possible, I targeted Chandler Parsons, Nikola Vucevic, Mike Conley if he happened to be there, and Tim Duncan.

Parsons, gone; Vucevic, gone; Conley, gone; and Timmy sniped a pick before me.

Pretty harsh feeling at that point — the timer ticking down and literally your entire target list long gone. The only silver lining I had in this situation is that I’d be picking again two spots later.

I landed Kemba Walker for his points and assists, also recognizing the loss in field goal percentage. And while he may not hit them at a great clip right now, I do like that Walker isn’t shy about chucking from beyond the arc (216 made threes over the past two seasons).

 

Round 5 (2) – Kenneth Faried

Derrick Favors was one of my pre-draft targets — a guy I felt good about and told myself I wouldn’t pass on if given the chance to take him.

In retrospect, I should’ve taken Kenneth Faried — another guy I really, really wanted — at the end of Round 4, then turned right around and drafted Favors to solidify a strong, youthful front court.

Nonetheless, I’m happy to have Faried on the House of Guards squad.

 

Round 6 (11) – Jamal Crawford

Round 6. The Round of the Sniper.

With Marcin Gortat taken at 6.5, I shifted focus to Greg Monroe, Jimmy Butler, and David Lee. Then Lee went at 6.7, Monroe at 6.9, and Butler, ever so fittingly, selected a pick before me at 6.10.

doknojvopckzdkjqwokm?!?!?!?!?

I’m not mad about landing Jamal Crawford. First guy off the bench or starter, the dude puts up points and buries three-pointers. I wanted (and also felt I needed) both.

 

Round 7 (2) – Nikola Pekovic

As much as I enjoy the Pekovic stat line, there was some concern surrounding this pick given the stuff I’ve read regarding the Timberwolves limiting Pek’s minutes due to some knee-itis type malarkey.

I took him anyway, expecting something like 16 points and 8 rebounds a night, as well as effective shooting from the field.

 

Round 8 (11) – Eric Gordon

This is where I felt things began to unravel for me.  At the top of the eighth round, I planned on taking Tyson Chandler and felt good about his availability.

Targeting Chandler (and ONLY Chandler), however, ended up being my biggest downfall. Totally my fault.

Chandler was selected at 8.5 and I suddenly had no idea what I wanted to do. I liked the idea of another scoring type and thought long and hard about The Truth in Washington. Then I backed off and thought about going for another big.

Lost in space, I ended up with Eric Gordon.

I’ve crossed my fingers for Gordon to stay healthy since I made that pick more than eight hours ago.

 

Round 9 (2) – Enes Kanter

Paul Pierce was still an option here (he’d later go at 9.6), but I felt a strong need to address my front court after taking Gordon in the last round.

I’m not sure the rest of the crew agreed with Enes Kanter this high, but I viewed it as a pick with upside. He’s a full-time starter in Utah this season, and if rumors are true that he’s going to get some long-range looks, then bring ‘em on.

I like what Kanter can give me in the points department, as well as field goal percentage, and I think his rebounding numbers can/will improve to make him a steady double-double guy.

 

Round 10 (11) – Tristan Thompson

Entering the back end of the draft, I was looking for a guy with some double-double potential who could serve as a decent utility guy. I was really after Jeff Green, but he ended up going 11.11.

There’s probably not enough balls to go around in Cleveland, but I like the idea of Thompson’s athleticism paired with LeBron.

 

Round 11 (2) – J.J. Redick

I thought about Ersan Ilyasova here, but then remembered my pre-hypertension and figured his play throughout the season is a roller coaster best not experienced.

Then, as embarrassing as it may sound, I thought about Carlos Boozer here too.

Ultimately I ended up with the man/kid/dude I grew up loathing. And I mean that literally. I spent nearly my entire adolescence (and beyond) defiling J.J. Redick and anything having to do with his existence.

Setting emotions aside for a second though, I ended up with a pretty decent basketball guy if/when he can stay healthy. Going after a three-point shooter made sense at this stage in my draft too, so Redick it is.

 

Round 12 (11) – Terrence Ross

I had Marcus Smart sitting in my queue for quite some time, and I was confident in landing him at the end of the round. Instead, discussion heated up on the Google Hangout we had going on, this guy said “Smart”, that guy said “Smart”, and before I knew it, Smart was out of my queue and gone at 12.4.

That’s not bitterness of course. I’m not talking as if I’m some NBA draft pro that just lost the season because us guys decided to talk about a certain someone in the second to last round. I’m just saying, Marcus Smart would’ve been cool.

Good news for me: Terrence Ross is also cool. He finished last season averaging 11 points per game with 161 made three-pointers. He also added better than three rebounds and an assist every night in under 27 minutes.

Also noted: Once Smart was off the board, I was comfortable going with Alec Burks. He was taken two picks before me.

 

Round 13 (2) – Kevin Garnett 

Matt Barnes was the smart pick here, but I favored a big man who could play the five.

And respect, of course. Respect for the Big Ticket and my duty as a basketball fan to never allow him to go undrafted in fantasy formats. Ever.

Speaking of which, what ever happened to the “Big Ticket” moniker? Was that considered an immature nickname?

Anyway, there was also the possibility of taking Dion Waiters to close out my draft, but with his recent slew of shit talking, I couldn’t stomach the move. Not to mention, the crew and I were giggling so much about Waiters through the previous 12 rounds that I didn’t want to be the guy that actually landed him. #BealOrDie

 

Not a terrible fiddle, I suppose. I was definitely outmatched by the other guys, who are extremely wise and savvy and absolutely worth your follow on Twitter (@weisband, @rustypedalbike, @gdula13, @bryan_mears, @HurmNF, @Real_Hauss, @BitterPackerFan, @GalinDragiev, @bRo14thekid, @Style_N_Out).

Again, things really seemed to go awry for me after the seventh round. The sniping rate was picking up, I wasn’t nearly as sharp as I should’ve been regarding intriguing late-round fliers, and I reached on a fair share I’m guessing.

Now onto the games!

 

  1. Klay Thompson went 3.1, otherwise that would’ve been hard to resist.  (back)

Reports: Kevin Durant Close to Massive $325 Million Endorsement Deal with Under Armour

Kevin Durant Redskins 2

The dream of Kevin Durant returning to Washington, DC is still alive and well — just in case anyone was checking.

The latest puzzle piece to nestle into place? The rumor that Durant will be moving on from his longtime partnership with Nike to sign an incredibly massive $325 million endorsement deal with Under Armour.

And the rub? Under Armour headquarters is located in Durant’s home state of Maryland.

Will I continue to feed this monster? Yes I will — ’til the summer of ’16 when KD is donning a fly-ass Wizards jersey.

Grading the Wizards’ 2014 NBA Summer League Stay

Otto Porter and Glen Rice Jr.

Some fans enjoy the NBA summer league. Others hate it.

If I had to guess, I’d say a majority tend to lean toward the “hate it” side. Why? Lots of reasons, really. But things like “sloppy play”, “who the hell is this kid?”, and “is that so-and-so’s brother’s nephew’s cousin?” probably top the list.

Anyway, the conclusion of the Las Vegas summer league (congrats, Sacramento?) means another chapter of the NBA offseason in the books, which then gives us the opportunity to hand out praise and criticism to our beloved Washington Wizards for their two-week layover in Sin City.

Here’s a look at the good and bad from Washington’s summer league stay.

Cool

  • Although it’s really what should’ve happened for the Wizards this summer given each guys’ time spent on the roster last season, both Glen Rice Jr. and Otto Porter Jr. impressed in their six games in Vegas. Rice averaged 25 points per game and won summer league MVP (hardware!), while Porter chipped in with 19 and nearly six rebounds a game. One could breakdown each guy’s play, game-by-game, but the most noticeable takeaway from the young duo (both of whom should be a part of the team’s active roster) is their confidence. I think assistant coach Sam Cassell was the first to say it (I think…no link), but it was so true — both Rice and Porter were playing like they were the best players on the court, and it made a world of difference in their play. Hopefully that carries over.
Player G MPG FG% 3P% RPG APG SPG TO PPG
Porter 6 31.8 0.484 0.389 5.8 1.8 0.5 2.2 19
Rice 6 32 0.469 0.361 7.8 2.3 2.5 3 25
  • As someone who’s been on the Khem Birch bandwagon for quite a while now, it was nice to see him play well this summer, and for the Wizards to boot. His five points per game in a little more than 19 minutes of action were on par for the type of hustle/defensive/ rebounding player he is. Birch doesn’t fit the mold of a stretch-4, but he’s an easy guy to root for because he does all the other stuff (5.7 rebounds, 1.2 blocks per game) well and does so with maximum effort.
  • Sam Cassell remains a hot coaching candidate, which is great in terms of his current duties with the Wizards, but also concerning that he could be on his way to Los Angeles in exchange for a second-round pick (according to Wojnarowski). Given Ernie Grunfeld’s drafting ability, Cassell is worth about 68 times more than a second-round pick. I hope he stays.
  • I’m willing to call it the best moment of the Wizards’ summer league — the ever so studly Bradley Beal was sitting courtside, wearing a headset and chatting it up with the commentary crew during one of Washington’s games against the Miami Heat. As Beal talked about his own development as a player and the Wizards’ expectations heading into next season, Tyler Honeycutt (who is quite bad) attempted to drive the left lane and slam on Wizards center Daniel Theis. Honeycutt was successful with the driving part, but Theis dished out a peak-high block that was well-qualified for the four-letter network’s top-ten plays, ultimately leading to a whooing crowd and Honeycutt’s miserable remains hunched on the hardwood.

Beal then added commentary of his own, giving us the best 16 words of the tournament and helping complete a truly special moment in Theis’ young career.

I don’t know his name — I think he’s from overseas — but that was a good block.                                                                        – Bradley Beal, nevermore

So who really is Daniel Theis? I have no idea. I don’t think anyone does. Even DraftExpress.com didn’t have much info outside of his vitals (6’9″, 215 lbs), his age (22), his hometown (Braunschweig, Germany), and his Eurocup stats from last season. But following five games with the Wiz this summer, the athletic power forward with the blonde comb-over averaged 6.6 points, six boards and nearly two blocks a game. Definitely cool. 

Somewhat chilly

  • My current nightmare: rooting for Daniel Orton. Why the torture? Because he was a part of the John Wall draft class in 2010 and I crush on John Wall like a teenage school girl? I have no answers. Even so, I feel like I barely saw Orton this summer, despite him playing five games with the Wiz. His stats were pretty ho-hum for the most part: 4.4 points, 5 rebounds, and barely a block per game. The better side: 1.4 assists and 1.2 steals. Go Daniel Orton.
  • Rookie Jamil Wilson looked the part of a small forward, standing 6’7″, 230 pounds. Additionally, his hometown of Racine, Wisconsin is the same as former-Wizards forward Caron Butler. Kind of cool/coincidental.

Not Cool

  • I know you’re not supposed to invest a lot into the summer league, but I had high(er) hopes for rookie point guard Deonte Burton. It’d be nice for a young point to come up through the ranks behind guys like John Wall and veteran Andre Miller, and Burton seemed like a fun project. But after averaging less than two points per game on 15 percent (!) shooting with an ugly assist (1) to turnover (1.3) ratio, Burton takes the cake for most disappointing of the Wizards’ desert vacation.

Wizards go 5-1 in Las Vegas, the Jrs. (Glen Rice and Otto Porter) find their mojo, Sam Cassell is a valuable asset, I still like Khem Birch (and for some reason Daniel Orton too), maybe someone knows who Daniel Theis is by now (but probably not), and the Deonte Burton balloon (if there ever was one) has already gone flat.

So long, summer league.

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