Grading Caron Butler’s 2013-14 season with the Thunder.
Regular season: A. Butler couldn’t have performed better in his 22 regular season appearances with the Thunder. He shot the ball incredibly well from long distance, played solid defense, most notably as a ball hawker, and was an ideal teammate from the moment he put on an OKC uniform.
Postseason: D. What happened? That’s the question we’re left asking ourselves. What happened to Butler when the season’s calendar switched to the postseason? All that he did well in the regular season dried up in the playoffs. No longer was he an accurate shooter, a reliable defender or a contributor in any other tangible way. He scored in double figures only three times in 18 postseason games and averaged 6.3 points on 32.4 percent shooting in the playoffs. Things got so bad for Butler that Scott Brooks had no choice but to bench him for the Thunder’s season-ending Game 6 loss against San Antonio. He didn’t play a second of that game.
Defense: C. In this department, Butler’s reputation seemed to exceed his skill at this stage of his career. Butler proved to be a physical player who knew how to use his quick hands to get steals and deflections. He averaged 1.1 steals in the regular season, which tied him with Reggie Jackson for fourth on the team. But in isolations, whether on the wing or the low block, Butler struggled. He had a few standout moments, but things got worse as the season went on.
Leadership: A. Here is where Butler was as good as advertised. Jeremy Lamb got bumped, then knocked out of the rotation by Butler’s arrival and still couldn’t help but credit Butler for having a positive impact on his season. That pretty much sums up what kind of presence Butler was. He immediately connected with young players and created bonds with the veterans. He was a great fit from that standpoint.
Professionalism: B. Another area in which Butler’s reputation preceded him. For the most part, he lived up to the hype. He was great with fans, complementary of the city, terrific with teammates and a joy to the media. But he left town on a bad note. He was one of only two Thunder players — rookie Grant Jerrett was excused because he never saw the court with the Thunder — to not sit down for an exit interview with the media. Team officials said it was a miscommunication on their part. But it looked bad for Butler, especially after the way his final game in a Thunder uniform played out.