More Juice Please: Why Butler Should Shoot As Much As Arenas
[Ed. Note: this is the first post by newcomer docfunk, who was introduced in the previous post]
During each Wizards game I hope for 3 things:
- Gilbert Arenas escapes unscathed.
- DeShawn Stevenson does his face-wave much to the chagrin of former-Bullet turned broadcaster, Phil Chenier.
- Caron Butler takes 20 shots or more.
The Wizards are often dismissed as a cavalry of role-players marching to the syncopated beat of Gilbert Arenas. For the past 2 seasons, we have witnessed the Wizards attempt to play Rockband sans-drummer. What resulted was a throw-the-controller inducing 19-win season which we blamed (unfairly) on Eddie Jordan’s playlist.
Though no NBA team enjoys a 19-win season, there was a silver lining. A lining which we intend to melt down and sell for liquor money. We Wizards fans are a pessimistic bunch, you see.
- We witnessed JaVale McGee (a young kangaroo) trap a lay-up against the ozone layer.
- We saw Antawn Jamison make enough awkward flip shots to send EA Sports’ motion-capture team back to the drawing board.
- Perhaps most importantly, we saw what can happen when Caron Butler asserts himself.
This is not a completely fair statement to Caron. He has always asserted himself defensively and on the boards. Kwame Brown he is not. I am refering to his willingness to create a shot for himself.
Last season was Caron’s 4th in DC. He set career highs in points per game (20.8), free throws attempted per game (6.0), and fell 0.1 shots per game short of his career high (16.3).
“Yes, and they lost 63 games.”
AS THAT MAY BE, I propose to you that the Wizards would have lost more games if not for Caron Butler.
In the 2008-09, Caron Butler averaged 17.8 shots in games the Wizards won.
To contrast, Butler averaged 15.7 shots in the many many games lost.
Compare that to the last time Caron played significantly with Gilbert Arenas.
In the 2006-07 season, Caron Butler averaged 15.6 shots in games the Wizards won. How many shots did he take in games the Wizards lost? 15.6.
“So Caron’s shot selection has no impact when Arenas plays?”
Quite the contrary. Like the proverbial Rodman, we must dig deeper into the statistical soil to escape the early birds of dismissal. Let’s take a look at the Wizards’ record when Caron Butler takes 20 or more shots and how it compares to the Wizards total record each respective season.
The most readily observable fact is that the Wizards are better when Caron takes 20+ shots in a game than when he doesn’t. Additionally, the largest difference was in the season WITH Gilbert Arenas.
But wait, there’s more!
Antawn Jamison, despite being the leading scorer in Arenas’ absence, doesn’t have quite as beneficial of an impact with a higher volume as Tuff Juice. Specifically in the 2006-07 season (with Arenas), Jamison’s shot volume has no bearing on wins and losses.
Whereas both Butler and Jamison are shown to have a positive impact on the Wizards with shot volume, is there a player that exemplifies the opposite? Someone who’s played more than Caron’s’ 188 games in the past 3 seasons for the Wizards and takes 20+ shots often doesn’t exist. So let’s lower the bar to 12+ shot attempts to get a larger sample size.
Anyone who’s even casually watched the Wizards shouldn’t be surprised by this. If DeShawn is taking more than 12 shots in a game, something has gone terribly wrong (besides our ability to feel our respective faces). The conclusion we can summize from this data is though Butler shoots less than either Jamison or Arenas, his high shot volume is more likely to result in a Wizards victory than either of the aforementioned players.
In Agent Zero’s absence, Caron has proven to be an integral part of the Wizards chance for success. The worst thing that can happen upon Gilbert’s return, is a similar shot distribution to the 2006-07 season. It was a season in which Caron was the clear 3rd option. While it’s easy to see in retrospect, Caron had a better 20+ shot win % than either of his counterparts:
If the Wizards are to regain their playoff stature, the shot distribution of Gilbert and Caron must to be at an equilibrium.
During the 2006-07 season, Arenas and Butler each took 20+ shots in a game 9 times. The Wizards won 6 of those games.
Feeling parched? Perhaps unable to keep pace with the opposition? Have a lot of shots and nothing to show for it? Maybe you need an additional serving of Tuff Juice. It’s scientifically proven to improve your offense.
All statistics provided by Basketball Reference and ESPN game logs.
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