Utah Jazz: Brilliant draft score should earn a place in franchise lore

Utah Jazz draft pick Jared Butler (Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports)
Utah Jazz draft pick Jared Butler (Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports) /

Only time will tell, but the Utah Jazz might have owned the 2021 NBA Draft.

At 20 years old, Baylor product Jared Butler is suddenly a possible longtime partner in crime alongside 24-year-old two-time All-Star Donovan Mitchell in the Utah Jazz backcourt. Perhaps the 6-foot-3, 195-pound combo guard also serves as an immediate backup plan should Mike Conley bolt in free agency this offseason.

But wait, for there’s plenty more to like about the former four-star recruit who hails from Reserve, La., a 30-minute drive from the Jazz’s birthplace in New Orleans:

Butler is the reigning Final Four Most Outstanding Player. A national champion to boot, of course.

A lights-out 3-point shooter at 41.6 percent as a junior for a Bears squad that finished 28-2 overall with April nets in tow. The champs’ leading scorer at 16.7 points per game and premier on-court thief at 2.0 steals per game — primarily of the oh-so-sly variety.

A 2020-21 Consensus First Team All-American.

Now, the projected lottery pick by some is coming to Utah, minus the initial first-round price tag.

Yup, with one calculated move at Thursday’s NBA Draft that resulted in Butler packing his bags for Salt Lake City, the franchise got all that and a bag of chips.

Utah dropped 10 spots from its lone selection to snag arguably the night’s most overlooked gem.

The “chips” are the two future second-round picks that the Jazz also acquired from the Memphis Grizzlies in exchange for their 30th overall pick, which saw Loyola Maryland forward Santi Aldama head to Beale Street.

Plain and simple, Jared Butler bringing intangibles galore to the Utah Jazz

Nifty passer. Shifty ballhandler. Well-built rim-attacker. Midrange prowess. Top-shelf speed.

The methodical playmaker is a proven go-getter and mentor on the court as well as off, as evident in Butler’s past role as a Sunday school teacher, per Andy Larsen of The Salt Lake Tribune.

And the list goes on.

Why Jared Butler may have slid to the Utah Jazz

Sure, all teams must have held understandable concerns regarding Butler’s heart issue, which led to the NBA’s fitness-to-play panel taking from mid-June until last week to clear him to play in the league.

Furthermore, questions about his knees had been popping up leading up to the draft.

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Still, judging from the championship pedigree and an above-and-beyond resume, it sure makes perfect sense that you can’t spell “Jared Butler” without “l-e-a-d-e-r.”