NBA Top 50: Caron Butler (No. 26)
FanHouse's Tom Ziller argues his ranking of the top 50 players in the NBA.
The NBA has seen some woefully lopsided trades this decade: Tracy McGrady for Steve Francis and Cuttino Mobley, Vince Carter for three expired lottery tickets and a 15% off coupon at IHOP, and most recently, Pau Gasol for Kwame Brown and Marc Gasol. But Kwame appears in one more severely tilted trade: when the Wizards sent him to L.A. in a sign-and-trade for Caron Butler. The Lakers gave up Butler for the opportunity to pay Brown up to $9 million a year.
Butler, a cat who got along with Kobe famously despite a bad team effort in '04-05, was a young stud on his rookie deal. Washington ended up locking him in to one of the league's shrewdest contracts; to this day, the 'Zards can pay Gilbert Arenas and Antawn Jamison eight digits because they're only pitching Caron seven.
Considering what Butler does on the court, it might be the best move on Ernie Grunfeld's resumé.
Not to be stereotypical, but there aren't too many souls in the NBA who can both pull of the nickname "Tough Juice" and land No. 34 on the all-time NBA free throw percentage list. I mean, here's the top six: Mark Price, Rick Barry, Steve Nash, Peja Stojakovic, Calvin Murphy (!), Scott Skiles. Dude has ink of the Grim Reaper and he could beat Dolph Schayes at a FT contest.
That's just the thing with 'Ron: he's not a thing you'd expect. A burly (6'7, 220) forward who can rebound, post up, steal as much as anyone, shoot jumpers for days, draw fouls, sink foul shots, defend, run, play slow, dunk on your head (YES I'M TALKING ABOUT YOU JOHN SALMONS, I SAW IT WITH MY OWN TWO EYES!), scoop under you with a reverse lay-up, guzzle a two-liter of Mountain Dew through a dozen McDonald's straws, mow your lawn, apologize for clipping the daisies by accident, and dunk your head again (DANG IT SALMONS WATCH THAT DUDE!).
Superlatives aside, Butler really is a wonder. Calling him a utility-man is a disservice due to today's standards for the common utility man; consider him a sane Gerald Wallace. I don't mean sane as in "boring" -- did I tell you about the Grim Reaper tat, the straws and the Dew? -- it's just that Caron's game has an imminent tangibility to it. Wallace has done those things he do, but you're always afraid it could disappear like an eyelash. Butler, I feel, could do this six more years non-stop.
So no, despite two straight All-Star hollers, Caron Butler doesn't roll off the tongue like T-Mac or A.I. But dude's a better performer at this point, a criminally undersung rascal deserving of your attention. Please people, respect Caron Butler. </self-plagiarism>