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More on the Rasual Butler Trade

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Published: August 13, 2009

I was a fan of Butler this season.  Enough so that I featured him strongly in bunch of my game previews and wrote two pieces entirely about him, which were two more than I wrote the previous season.  One was even one of my highly bizarre fake investigations into the occult.  Those are always fun. If you’d like to reminisce, here they are:

Rasual Butler: Phoenix in Flight
Every Phoenix Casts a Deep Shadow

So Butler was essentially our underdog story this year.  Everyone loves those, and as such, everyone loved Butler.  In a season full of injury, he was consistently available and was consistent, particularly from deep.  Watching the fan forums, the responses to this trade, as always, have run the gamut.  Most seemed accepting, but there were a lot of people who couldn’t believe Butler was only worth a 2nd round pick – a couple even claimed there’s no way we can win a championship now that we’ve traded Butler.  Wow.  That’s extreme.

Anyways, like always, I decided to apply cold, hard numbers to the problem.  I started by pulling some stat excerpts from my Wing Market Value post I did at the end of the season, just to review what Butler actually produced for us on the floor.

Offense:

Butler’s calling card – shooting – ranked 37th amongst shooting guards and 63rd among all Wing players.(as measured by true shooting percentage, which takes into account three-pointers and free throws)  He also had the third lowest assist rate of any shooting guard.

Rebounding:

Butler ranked 93rd in rebound rate among wing players, grabbing a pretty sad 6.3% of available rebounds.

Defense:

Butler held opposing Shooting Guards to a PER of 16.4, and opposing Small Forwards to a PER of 18.2.  While you’d expect those numbers to be a little higher than average since he often took the toughest assignment, it does show he’s probably at best an average defender.  Shooting Guards averaged a PER of 15.7 this year, and Small Forwards averaged a 15.9. 

Summary Stats:
There are also stats out there that attempt to summarize a players production (PER, WP48) or their contributions both offensive and defensive.(Adjusted +/-) 

Players with a PER of 15.0 are average.  A WP48 of .100 is average.  An Adjusted +/- of zero would tell us he had neither a positive or negative impact on the team.  As you can see, Butler doesn’t show well with any of these stats:

Player PER WP48 Adjusted +/-
Rasual Butler 11.82 .033 -5.74

Still, if we trade him, who do we replace him with?  The frontrunners would appear to be Julian Wright, Morris Peterson or, maybe, Marcus Thornton.  Here are the summary stats for Julian Wright and Morris Peterson from last year(plus Peja, Posey, and Devin Brown, just for fun):

Player PER WP48 Adjusted +/-
Julian Wright 12.66 .115 -0.79
Morris Peterson 10.73 .043 -4.41
James Posey 10.85 .088 -3.27
Peja Stojakovic 12.54 .040 4.12
Devin Brown 9.71 -.054 -5.05

As a whole, our wings are a rather sad bunch, but in the end, no sadder than Rasual was.  Well, other than Devin Brown, who was a sad, sad dude.  Our best hope to turn the frown upside down is Julian Wright, who showed potential again last year – and most players make the leap in their third season. (If they are going to make the leap, that is.)

So, looking at those numbers – was Rasual only worth a 2nd round pick?  According to my Value of a Draft Pick post, an early second round pick(since, you know, it IS the Clippers) – gives a 7% chance of getting an “A” or “B” player, a 9% chance of getting an “C” player, a 27% chance of getting a “D” player, and a 56% chance of getting someone useless.  Last year, Butler’s production rated a “D+”, and that was his best year in the league.  I think a 2nd round pick is actually pretty fair in this case.(though the conditional and 2016 parts make it less so.)  And all of that is without even bringing into account the monetary benefits of the trade.  So . . . I’m good.

What do you think?

Oh – and does anyone else hope that Darren Collison turns out able to give us shooting guard minutes like Speedy Claxton and Jannero Pargo used to do?  I always loved those change-of-pace 10 minutes a game when Paul and Pargo or Paul and Claxton would generate a quick, mighty mouse-style attack.

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