Nuggets to sign Brian Butch, D-League All-Star Game MVP

The Denver Nuggets plan to call-up the Bakersfield Jam's Brian Butch according to a report from ESPN's Marc Stein.

Butch, a 6-foot-11 second-year pro out of the University of Wisconsin, averaged 17.7 points and 11.9 rebounds while shooting 48% from the field and 35% from beyond the arc in the D-League this season.  He was also named the D-League All-Star Game's Most Valuable Player.

The need for a big man had been looming since Kenyon Martin tore his patella on March 3 - the Nuggets had a tryout for "big men" a few days later - but it seems it became a more pressing need, and thus acted upon, when Chris Andersen sprained his ankle on Thursday.

Butch is a good player, but not the player I would have chosen for this call-up.  Still, it makes me a lot more happy that he's getting the NBA opportunity in lieu of an older retread.

I had been lobbying for a D-Leaguer to the Nuggets ever since they decided to tryout Brian Cook, but the stretch four I was pushing was former Golden State Warrior Rob Kurz.

My argument is best summed up in the March 9th version of our call-up rankings, as they ranked ninth and tenth respectively that week.

First, my thoughts on Kurz:

Kurz gets my mid-season award for using the D-League most effectively. Last season with Golden State, he was primarily (read: only) a pick-and-pop shooter. After that gig didn't fly in a number of opportunities this off-season (Orlando Summer League with the 76ers/Nets combined team, Vegas Summer League with the TWolves, preseason with the Cavs), he came to the D-League and has worked on becoming more than a shooter. It's actually really working. I'm not sure how much credit to give to his coach (Joey Meyer was also credited for developing Ramon Sessions while in the D-League), but Kurz is now able to score in the post and averaging over 10 boards per game as the lone bright spot for his struggling Mad Ants. Oh, and don't worry - his 45% shooting from beyond the arc proves he's still able to shoot as well.

And now, my thoughts on Butch:

Essentially, he's what Kurz was before Kurz learned how to play in the post - a tall, one-dimensional shooter with average defensive abilities.  Still, he was the All-Star game MVP and is bringing in 11.1 rebounds per game, so there are things to like.

Well, I was a little tough on Butch there, so here are a few more thoughts on his game off of the top of my head:

Offense is definitely his specialty ... he did start scoring in the post over the past month and is lengthy enough to pose problems ... he's anything but a strong finisher, but does have a nice and awkward lefty-hook and his fallaway jumper can be effective with a bit more work ... he's a gunner from deep - I'd guess at least 65% of his offense comes from beyond the arc ... He's subpar on defense ... long, but unathletic and not very strong ... his rebounding numbers look pretty strong, but quite a few of them can be attributed to right place right time - not solid box outs ... He projects to me as a much better Euro big than NBA big, but hopefully it works out.

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