Dub Nation HQ Draft Tourney: #3 James Bouknight vs #14 Jared Butler

Battle of the microwave spark-plug scorers

The whole tournament is at 2021 Dub Nation HQ Draft Tournament.

Your mission is to decide which of these two you would prefer the Warriors draft at #7 this year. I’ll bring the scouting reports, you bring the vote.


James Bouknight

Mock Draft Selections For GSW: Vecenie, TheAthletic, Kalbrosky, USA Today. NBADraft.net (6/22), Kawakami, The Athletic

Profile from Sports-Reference.com

Wizzy’s Comps

  • Per 40: Jarrett Culver, Kenny Anderson, Richard Hamilton, Dwayne Bacon, Gerald Henderson, Anthony Edwards, Bracey Wright, Jason Sasser, Joseph Forte,

  • Advanced: Dwayne Bacon, Jarrett Culver, Tony Carr, Carsen Edwards, Kemba Walker, Cole Anthony, Kevin Murphy, Shabazz Muhammad, Anthony Edwards,

Jon Chepkevich: Statistical best comparisons are

  1. Malik Beasley

  2. Romeo Langford

  3. Gerald Henderson

  4. Marshon Brooks

  5. Alec Burks

Bucket-getters galore. Some good, some bad, some ugly…

NBA Draft Room Comp: Derek Anderson, Jamal Murray

Kyle Boone, CBS Sports: An in-season elbow injury and subsequent surgery derailed Bouknight's breakout sophomore season, as he returned for UConn but wasn't quite the same player. Still, he's an electric scorer with fantastic leaping ability who can create looks for himself by getting to the tin, pulling up off the bounce, moving smartly off the ball and generally being a bucket-getter. 

The lack of shot-making and shot-creation on Golden State's roster was glaring by season's end, with Stephen Curry ultimately shouldering a massive workload on both fronts. And while Jordan Poole and Andrew Wiggins have their roles for the future, and Klay Thompson's return should help, Bouknight can give this team a nice scoring addition. He's a savvy creator with good size and length who can make plays anywhere on the court and profiles as a nice offensive weapon in any system.

Sam Vecenie, The Athletic: Bouknight is an athlete more in the vein of Zach LaVine, a smooth, floating explosiveness mixed with an authoritative finishing skill. He’s not quite as elite an athlete as young LaVine, but he’s going to throw down some monster dunks that raise eyebrows as a rookie. In general, the best skill Bouknight brings to the table is his shot creation. He averaged nearly 19 points per game this past season. He has a strong first step and has real finishing craft around the basket. He hit 62.7 percent of his shots at the rim in half-court settings, in part because he was able to also get a lot of shots at the basket off cuts due to his intelligent off-ball movement. He needs to get better on defense and as a passer, but there is a real gift for getting buckets.

Kevin O’Connor, The Ringer: SHADES OF Donovan Mitchell, CJ McCollum, Jordan Clarkson

Spark-plug scorer whose silky ballhandling and competitive edge are tailor-made for the pros.

  • Ballhandling

  • Interior Scoring

  • Athleticism

PLUSES

  • Explosive athlete with a quick first step to pressure the paint and the hops to play above the rim.

  • Finishes acrobatically inside by leaping off either foot and using either hand for touch layups or loud dunks. Also draws a lot of fouls with deceptive moves and body control.

  • Slippery ball handler who loves using hesitations to generate space for his jumpers. Can hit tough, contested shots off the dribble.

  • Instinctual player who relocates and cuts.

  • Speedy defender who could become an effective stopper against opposing guards and some wings. Made strides as a sophomore, especially focusing off-ball and making an impact in the passing lanes.

MINUSES

  • Playmaking instincts: He forces some passes that aren’t there and misses some open opportunities. And he too often kills his dribble.

  • Streaky spot-up shooter whose issues could be due to his mechanics. Has a relatively stiff shot out of stationary positions.

  • Inconsistent on-ball defender.

  • Suffered a torn meniscus as a junior in high school.

IndyCornRows (very extensive dive): James Bouknight is exactly the type of player I would be willing to draft with the Pacers first round pick. He has the potential and ability to hit a very high outcome that results in him becoming an elite off-ball scorer with on-ball equity that doesn’t get you killed on defense at the wing: the Pacers need to take as many shots as possible at wings with the chance to create. You’re not drafting any surefire primary creators in the late lottery, but there are some “maybe if” guys, and Bouknight is one of them. The flashes are so bright with him and if the Pacers can find a way to bring along their first lottery pick in half a decade, he could be an extraordinary player if drafted by Indiana

I also don’t want to make it sound as though he’s a bonafide star, If the handle really doesn’t improve (I’m confident it will due to what I discussed earlier in relation to core strength and stability) then he projects more as an off-ball wing who struggles to create his own shot and is mostly a play finisher in an NBA offense. 

Hollinger, The Athletic: Pronounced “Bucket.” OK, it’s not, but it should be. He’s a bit undersized for a shooting guard and a bit greedy for a point, but Bouknight’s ability to get this own shot stands out in this class.

Bouknight averaged an eye-popping 39.3 points per 100 possessions in nine Big East games as a sophomore at UConn this season, despite a midseason injury that seemed to affect his shooting once he came back. He can take it to the cup and finish with long strides and length (54.5 percent on 2s in the Big East with a high free throw rate), plus he gets off the floor on his jumper and is comfortable shooting pull-ups off the dribble.

That doesn’t make him wart-free. You’d like to see more consistency in his perimeter stroke (29.3 percent from 3 this year, 32 percent career, although he’s an 80 percent foul shooter); opponents may just go under screens on him and dare him to bomb way. Bouknight also needs to increase his feel as a passer if he wants to play a prominent on-ball role. His rate of 3.2 assists per 100 was unacceptable for a high-volume guard.

Bouknight needs to show a bit more verve defensively. He shows good lateral quickness, has decent length and competes when he’s guarding on the ball, but he also chills out off the ball and doesn’t anticipate plays. He also needs to build up his skinny frame, as opposing 2s will likely try to take him on the block. One encouraging sign: He does rebound, with 10.2 boards per 100 in Big East play.

The value proposition here is that high-level shot creation still matters. Bouknight has a lot of Jordan Clarkson in him, both for good and bad, but it’s not hard to imagine him becoming an annual Sixth Man winner.


Jared Butler

(6/22) Looks like Butler has some very concerning heart health issues which seem to be sending him down the draft board.

Profile from Sports-Reference.com

Wizzy’s Comps

  • Per 40: Chris Whitney, Gilbert Arenas, William Avery, D’Angelo Russell, Jay Williams, Andy Rautins, O.J. Mayo, Raymond Felton, Cameron Payne.

  • Advanced: Davion Mitchell, D’Angelo Russell, Shane Larkin, Payton Pritchard, NahShon Hyland, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Michael Gbinije, Reggie Jackson, Tyrese Haliburton

Jon Chepkevich: Statistical best comparisons are

  1. Nickeil Alexander-Walker

  2. Shelvin Mack

  3. Malachi Flynn

  4. Aaron Holiday

  5. Ty Jerome

NBA Draft Room Comp: George Hill

Sam Vecenie, The Athletic: Butler was as decorated a college player as you’ll find this past season, a first-team All-American who has worked his way into a genuine draft prospect over the last two years. He’s a 6-3 scoring guard who can knock down shots from the outside both directly off the catch and off the pull-up. He averaged nearly 17 points per game while shooting almost 42 percent from 3 and taking tough shots too. Plus, he was All-Defense in the Big 12 and generally does a good job of playing within scheme and locking down opposing players.

Kevin O’Connor, The Ringer: SHADES OF Goran Dragic, Avery Bradley with a handle

Microwave scoring guard who has improved as a playmaker during his three years in college.

  • Ballhandling

  • Perimeter Shooting

  • On-Ball Defense

PLUSES

  • Shifty ball handler who moves quickly side-to-side, and uses deception to generate space.

  • Good scorer off the dribble; he’s most potent in the pick-and-roll, as he can pull up for deep 3s or split screens and get to the rim, where he can finish with either hand.

  • Versatile spot-up shooting threat who relocates like a veteran around the perimeter and has excellent footwork coming off screens.

  • Creative passer. He displays the necessary vision and skills that could help him make the jump from secondary playmaker to primary.

  • High-effort on-ball defender and instinctive team defender who jumps passing lanes for deflections and rotates to protect the rim.

MINUSES

  • Below-the-rim finisher. He doesn’t shy from contact, which is encouraging, but doesn’t finish well or draw many fouls either.

  • He’s a risk-taker who occasionally tries to make a difficult pass when he should make a safe one, and he doesn’t always put enough velocity on the ball.

  • Undersized, which limits his upside on the defensive end.

Kyle Boone, CBS Sports: Butler averaged a career-high 4.8 assists and made 41.7% of his 3s last season for Baylor, proving his worth both as a combo creator and as a scorer. He would fit with the Warriors in a similar role either as an off-ball threat with Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry to give them *another* high-level scoring threat or as a second-unit creator and scorer. He was a 98th percentile spot-up shooter last season with a team-leading 28.0% assist rate, ahead of teammate Davion Mitchell, so his versatility will help him make an impact.

Hollinger, The Athletic: I’m a big fan of Butler, a butter-smooth guard with a sweet handle, long arms, good defensive anticipation and a money outside shot. Butler shot 41.6 percent on 3s on high volume, had a high assist rate for a combo guard, and shot 52.4 percent inside the arc while scoring at a high rate (31 points per 100). All the tools are there for a rotation-caliber combo guard with starter upside. While his teammate Davion Mitchell has gotten more of the praise recently, Butler is two years younger, bigger, had the greater offensive role and profiles as a better shooter.

Defensively, he might not be as insanely wired to cut off dribble penetration as Mitchell, but he has long arms that generate deflections and close up passing lanes. Baylor was a high-pressure team, so all their steal rates are inflated, but his 4.2 swipes per 100 possessions in Big 12 play was the highest of any prospect in his draft cycle.

Butler doesn’t offer elite upside because his size and athleticism are pretty unremarkable — and he was already a junior. He might have the best handle of any player in the draft, and his offensive game is exceptionally well-rounded. I have a hard time seeing how he fails.

However, based on the background teams have done, there is a concern about what Butler’s physical will turn up at the Draft Combine this week. We’ll likely know more about that after teams dissect the information in a few weeks. But if Butler gets a clean bill from the doctors,  it’s hard for me to avoid putting him in the lottery.


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