Athletic two-way wings are equivalent to gold in the modern NBA.
With the league increasingly trending towards small-ball lineups, the ability for teams to switch on defense is vital for most schemes to work.
Teams need their stars to not only score the ball on offense but also need to prevent the other team from scoring.
With their unique blend of size, length, and speed, modern-day wings are a perfect fit for today’s game.
Both are elite defensive stoppers capable of locking down the opposing team’s best player.
They can also defend multiple different positions.
On offense, they are equally capable of scoring the ball and carrying their team’s offense.
FULL TRADE DETAILS:
Massive package of future picks
— Legion Hoops (@LegionHoops) July 6, 2019
The Heat and the Clippers gave up a good bit to get them on their respective teams.
Each player is widely considered a top-20 player in the league.
But which of these two is considered better than the other?
George is Lockdown on Defense
Both Butler and George came into the league known for their defense.
While the offensive talent developed later, their skill on the less-glamorous end was present from the start.
Butler and George have each been selected to four All-Defensive Teams.
Jimmy to the 2nd team all four instances, while George split 1st and 2nd evenly among his selections at two each.
— Bulls SPORTalk (@SPORTalkBulls) May 25, 2016
Each player has also appeared on the Defensive Player of the Year voting ballot four times as well.
Butler has never finished higher than 10th (2015) with his most recent appearance coming in 2018.
PG-13 earns the nod over Jimmy in terms of defensive talent based on the eye-test and stats.
He is consistently tasked with defending the opposing team’s best wing scorer.
For his career, he has a defensive rating of 102 and has accounted for 37.3 defensive win shares.
Both numbers are in the top-15 among active players.
George has recorded two seasons with more than 2 SPG and seven seasons with more than 1.5 SPG.
Paul consistently plays lock-down defense against star players in the league.
Butler is not far behind.
Jimmy Butler 1st quarter defense was REDICULOUSLY good. Here’s a little highlight tape with commentary from yours truly pic.twitter.com/cgdjrWXm1c
— kingofthecourt (@kingsofcourtpod) October 5, 2020
He has a career defensive rating of 106 and has accounted for 24.5 DWS.
However, he lacks George’s blend of size and length and has deferred defensive duties in the past.
Butler More Old-School On Offense
It is harder to compare the two on offense as they have different styles of attacking.
Butler is more like a bulldog who has bettered his ability to run an offense of late.
He prefers to attack off the dribble and force his way into the paint.
This style has allowed him to average 6.1 FTA/game for his career but only 2.6 3PA/game.
George is more skill-based who is equally efficient working off the ball.
He has a deep bag of moves to cook defenders in isolation and can shoot the ball well coming off screens or spotting up.
This style sees him average fewer FTA/game than Butler at 4.8 but attempts many more 3PA (6.4).
Each style is effective in its own way.
George can fit seamlessly into nearly any NBA offense.
Players in the NBA averaging 25/5/5 on at least 43% from deep:
1. Kevin Durant
2. Paul George
3. Kawhi Leonard
That’s the list. pic.twitter.com/jpjKC7y8Rg
— Joey Linn (@joeylinn_) January 14, 2021
His skill allows him to get a bucket if needed but he can also flow within the offense.
Butler requires more tailoring to accommodate his style but allows him to take over whenever necessary.
This was never more visible than in the Finals last season against the Lakers.
Butler almost single-handedly kept the Heat competitive.
He scored 23, 25, 40 (W), 22, and 35 (W) points through the first 5 games before running out of gas in Game 6.
All this coming on 56% shooting and only 27% from 3.
His 40-point performance saw him attempt 0 threes and 14 free throws.
George’s struggles in last year’s playoffs are well documented.
But he is one of the most fun players to watch when he gets into a groove on offense.
While these offensive outbursts are sporadic, they are poetry in motion.
Paul George (28 PTS & 8 3PM) was cooking from beyond the arc last night 🎯 pic.twitter.com/Hx3ospMeHH
— NBA TV (@NBATV) August 2, 2020
Each style is effective, but George earns the nod for his more modern attack.
The intangibles are anything that cannot truly be documented through stats.
These are such things as basketball IQ, chemistry, and off-court personality.
The intangibles are where Butler really shines.
While he caused some drama in Chicago and Minnesota, he is beloved by nearly all his teammates.
He has fit in snugly with the Heat culture while transforming them into a title contender.
Butler is well-regarded as one of the hardest-working players in the league.
George’s off-court personality is a bit off-putting.
While he is a hard worker, his “star treatment” with the Clippers last year caused issues in the locker room.
And after his playoff collapse, he proceeded to blame the teams’ struggles on recently fired coach Doc Rivers.
The differences between Butler and George are relatively small.
Both are elite two-way players capable of leading a team deep into the playoffs.
If you were to compare the two inside of a vacuum, the winner would be PG-13.
He is a cleaner fit into any modern-day NBA offense while also being able to defend across multiple positions on defense.
Where Butler earns the nod is when considering who impacts winning more.
He clearly elevates the floor of any team he joins and makes them an instant playoff contender.
With Miami, he has quashed concerns that he is a locker room cancer.
His ability to take over games late and will his team to victory is a testament to his personality and perseverance.