Checklist for a Productive Caron Butler Homecoming to Milwaukee Bucks
Caron Butler is coming home.
Butler's acquisition means added depth at the team's weakest position and another legitimate scoring option. Though not the player he once was, there's still plenty left in his tank.
In 2012-13 with the Los Angeles Clippers, he averaged 10.4 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.0 assist on 42.4 percent shooting from the field. Butler also connected on 38.8 percent of the threes he took and started each of the 78 games he appeared in.
Not only will he provide the team with a veteran presence, but he'll also see an increase in minutes, and playing close to home might propel him to better numbers.
Increased Playing Time
Last season, as a member of the Clippers, Butler averaged 24.1 minutes of playing time and was relatively effective in a somewhat limited role.
In his first season with the Bucks, there will certainly be more minutes than that available to him.
Before Thursday's trade, the team was already thin when it came to small forward with just Carlos Delfino, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton being the only 3s on the roster, according to Hoopsworld.
According to Gery Woelfel of the Racine Journal Times, it's possible Delfino could miss part of the regular season due to a foot injury:
Carlos Delfino, whom the Bucks signed as a free-agent in July, had been the projected starting small forward. But Delfino is still recovering from surgery for a fractured bone in his right foot.
There are whispers that Delfino will miss the entire preseason and even a portion of the regular season.
What level of impact will Butler have on the team's success in 2013-14?
If that is the case, the signing of Butler becomes even more critical if Milwaukee hopes to start the season on a positive note.
Antetokounmpo and Middleton are both young and relatively inexperienced players. Neither of them will—nor are they ready to—see big minutes this year.
If Delfino does miss time, most of the minutes at small forward will be given to Butler.
Obviously, at his age, he can't be expected to play nearly 40 minutes a night—like he did in his prime—so some time at the 3 will be allotted to Ersan Ilyasova.
Still, Butler should see in the neighborhood of 30 minutes as long as Delfino remains sidelined.
With the increase in playing time, Butler's production should see improvement as well.
And just a few years removed from averaging 15.0 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.6 assists on 45.0 percent shooting from the field over 29 games, there's really no reason to believe he's still not capable of accumulating similar stats.
More Opportunities Offensively
Unlike the Clippers, the Bucks don't really have someone who can be considered a go-to scorer at this juncture.
O.J. Mayo has the best chance to become that guy, but there will be plenty of opportunities for others.
Butler won't ever post a stat line of 20.8 PPG, 6.2 RPG and 4.3 APG again, but he's still a player with a great scoring instinct, and his quickness and athleticism aren't completely depleted yet.
One thing that will allow him to continue his transition into more of an off-the-ball player is his continuous ability to shoot the three at a more efficient percentage.
And with the penetrating ability of both Mayo and Brandon Knight, he will see ample opportunity to connect from long range.
In each of the past three seasons, Butler has shot better than the 33.9 percent he's averaged from behind the three-point line for his career.
He'll be able to drift into corners and wait for open looks when guards drive or Larry Sanders and John Henson draw double-teams. If he can keep connecting at a solid rate from three, he'll be able to utilize pump fakes to find clear paths to the rim as well.
If he can pick his spots correctly in deciding when to attack and when to take the open jumper, Butler will be a valuable asset for the Bucks on offense.
And even if Delfino gets healthy, Butler is a much better option.
It's easy to assume that last season is a sign of things to come. At his age, things typically don't head in a positive direction.
That said, Butler has the veteran savvy and physical tools to still be a relevant player, and coming to Milwaukee should not only provide him with more opportunities offensively, but give him a little extra bounce in his step as well.
There's No Place Like Home
Not to be overlooked is the fact that Butler is coming back to an area near where he spent much of his childhood.
More importantly is that he seemingly wants to play for the Bucks, a sentiment that isn't often expressed.
According to a tweet from ESPN Los Angeles' Ramona Shelburne, it seemed to be something that he wanted:
From what I hear, Phoenix Suns are trying to do right by Caron by facilitating a trade to his hometown. He's very involved in the community— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) August 29, 2013
And in an article by Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Butler's happiness to be playing in his home state was very evident:
"Everything was handled the right way, in a very classy way," Butler said of the Suns. "The Bucks had made inquiries about me and I thought this would be a great opportunity for me and my family. My son (Caron Jr.) will be in eighth grade this year in Racine."
Coming off of a solid, healthy season and coming to a new team with that kind of attitude will do wonders not only for Butler, but for the Bucks as well.
And since he'll be home, he'll want to prove he's still got it.
There are certain things that bring the best out in people. For some, it's a rival or trying to beat one's own accomplishments. Yet, for others, it can simply be returning to a place where time was spent during youth.
It's hard to imagine Butler not coming out and proving he can still be a valuable asset to a playoff contender. Everything seems to be in place, and his renewed energy can only propel him in the right direction.
In Gardner's article, Butler states: "It's never been hard for me to score. As long as I'm out there, I'll find a way."
As the saying goes, where there's a will, there's a way. Butler seems to echo that sentiment with his attitude, and that's certainly something the Bucks need after dealing with the personalities of Jennings and Ellis last season.
With more minutes, a greater role in the offense and a little home cooking, Butler will build on is 2012-13 campaign and provide the Bucks with help at a position where they desperately need it.
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