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Grading the Mavs' season: Caron Butler

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After looking at our last poll, most of MMB gave Jason Terry around 5’s and 6’s. Adding JET’s grade to the mix, this is what we have so far:

Dirk – 9/10 (too close to call either way)

Kidd – 8

Marion – 6

JET – 5/6

The next player on the report card is going to be Caron Butler.

Arriving with Brendan Haywood in a trade from the Washington Wizards, Butler was thought to be a good scorer who could serve as the second offensive option to Dirk. Although his numbers did for the most part go down as he was playing out of position at the 2, he did do a solid job for the Mavs and gave the team a far better option at the 2 than Josh Howard did. Heading into this current season, it seemed as if Butler would finally be able to move over to the 3 with Shawn Marion going to the bench and Roddy B sliding over to the 2; however, with Roddy’s injury, it seems more and more likely that Butler will start the season once again at the 2.

Good: Butler more than provided an upgrade over Josh Howard at the 2. While Howard was still recovering from his various injuries throughout the year, a healthy and rejuvenated Butler was able to allow the Mavs to play their best basketball. Combined with the arrival of Haywood, Butler helped spark the Mavs as after a loss to OKC in his first game as he helped the Mavs run off their best win streak of the season (13 games). Furthermore, his stats during the streak showed his importance as he served as the primary 2nd option to Dirk and scored in double digits in almost every game. Once the playoffs rolled around, when he was given time, he played extremely well, scoring at least 17 points in all but Game 3 and literally carrying the team for portions of Game 5 and 6.

Bad: Coming off back to back career years, Butler’s numbers dipped. While that was expected considering the trade and the team he was playing on in Washington was mediocre at best, it still is remarkable to consider that his FG%, FT%, rebounds, assists, and points all dropped by a pretty good amount. Other than that, the only real problem that could be found in relation to Butler was the fact that in what was probably the most critical game of the playoff series (Game 3), he spent the entire 2nd half on the bench. Though the fault has to absolutely go on Rick Carlisle for not playing him, his play in the first half had not exactly been great, either. But again, considering his play in the rest of the series, it was a horrendous decision by Carlisle.

My Grade: I really think that Butler is one of the more underrated players on the Mavs. For that reason, I’m going to give him an 8. For the most part, the guy was exactly as advertised as he did a solid job in helping Dirk carry the load while being one of the very few players that actually showed up in the playoffs!

Outlook: There has been talk throughout the offseason about shipping out Butler’s contract in order to make a larger move to acquire someone like Chris Paul. However, seeing as that’s not going to happen at the moment, Butler will be on the Mavs for at least this year, which if he plays well, will probably get him some kind of an extension.