If I wanted to write this post in five words or less, I’d simply answer my own question in the title with: Really, really, really bad.
I don’t like to dump on guys when they’re in a minor slump that’s lasted just a few games, but what Rasual Butler is going through right now can’t just be classified as a simple slump. His performance has become a punch-line.
The worst part is that we should have seen it coming.
When the Raptors signed Butler to a one-year deal, most of us saw it as another veteran signing to help mentor the young guys and provide spot minutes when need be.
Even though not much was expected of Butler from a minutes standpoint, a lot of Raptors fans still pointed that out that he was the type of player who could light it up from three-point range now and then and could play some solid defence.
So while many were thrown off, few were angry when Dwane Casey surprised us by starting Butler on opening night.
From a defensive perspective, Butler hasn’t been all that bad. In fact, he’s probably been about average, if not better. The problem is, when you are as bad offensively as Butler has been through 11 games, you should be a noticeable defensive presence to stay on the floor, similar to the type of player James Johnson is.
In his short tenure as a Raptor, Butler’s best shooting performance was a three-of-seven display in a loss against the Nets. He’s gone “0-for” three times and has made only one shot six times so far. That’s right, Rasual Butler has either missed every shot he’s taken or has made only one in nine out of 11 games this season. And that’s coming from a guy who has started every game and is averaging close to 20 minutes.
In total, Butler is shooting an embarrassing 23 per cent (14-of-61) from the floor and is a laughable nine-of-41 (21.9 per cent) from three-point range.
So naturally, most people are pointing out that Butler, a normally decent shooter, is just having an off-year. But that’s not the case. The fact is that Rasual Butler has rarely ever been a good shooter.
Butler, 32, is currently in his 10th NBA season, and yet he’s only cracked 40 per cent from the field four times and hasn’t shot better than 43.3 per cent since the 2003-2004 season. He’s a career 39.9 per cent shooter who hits just under 36 per cent of his three-point attempts.
In short, he’s a very inefficient offensive player who misses way too many shots to make his average three-point stroke or average defence worth trotting out on the floor.
Rasual Butler seems like a good guy, seems to like Toronto and seems to have some overall good qualities, which would explain why Dwane Casey reportedly loves having him here and how he’s stuck around the NBA for a decade. I’m sure that given the chance, he can fill the role that most Raptors fans assumed would be placed on him, and that’s the simple one of mentoring the Raptors’ young and inexperienced talent.
But with Linas Kleiza getting back on the floor, James Johnson continuing to provide a defensive spark off of the bench and Gary Forbes yet to be given a real chance to show his worth, the only good reason to keep starting Rasual Butler and giving him 20 minutes per game is to increase the team’s chances of landing the No. 1 pick in this year’s draft, as Scott has recently pointed out.
In unrelated Raptors small forward news, here’s Sonny Weems getting the game-winning dunk for Zalgiris Kaunas against BC Khimki and sending the commentators into a state of euphoria:
Sonny’s actually having a pretty good season in Lithuania, but let’s remember that he had become Jamario Moon II in Toronto. Translation: He was a guy who earned minutes by working his tail off and playing defence, then forget what got him here and became an unfocused chucker.
Lastly, Andrea Bargnani’s status will reportedly be made clear some time on Friday, so I’m sure we’ll be talking then.