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How does a Jimmy Butler Rockets team matchup against Golden State?

Jimmy Butler #23 of the Minnesota Timberwolves controls the ball defended by Eric Gordon #10 of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
Jimmy Butler #23 of the Minnesota Timberwolves controls the ball defended by Eric Gordon #10 of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
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Jimmy Butler is known for his stellar defense against opponents while also being the go-to guy on offense. With recent trade rumors, it appears the Rockets are trying their best to land Butler.

There has been some divide among fans on whether the Rockets should pull the trigger on a trade if the chance arises.

Lets take a moment and pretend that Daryl Morey is able to land Butler and in exchange trade away Eric Gordon and P.J. Tucker.

The goal for the Rockets this season, regardless of who is on the roster, is to win a championship. Every move the Rockets make is because they feel it gives them the best chance to win. In order to win, they must defeat the reigning back to back NBA Champion Golden State Warriors.

Adding Jimmy Butler to this core would without a doubt provide the Rockets with a more versatile starting lineup than a season ago.

Assuming that Tucker is a part of the deal to get Butler, the Rockets would probably have  the starting lineup of:

Chris Paul, James Harden, Jimmy Butler, Carmelo Anthony, and Clint Capela.

Anthony would likely be guaranteed a starting role with Tucker absent. It has been reported that Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni sees Carmelo Anthony as a 4, and would prefer to have Tucker and Anthony not be on the court together. If Tucker is shipped out, Anthony has less competition.

Related Story. Eric Gordon could start, Carmelo Anthony could be 6th man

As for Jimmy Butler, he would have to adjust to a very different role from what he is accustomed to. In Houston, he would no longer be the first option.

Chris Paul is an elite point guard, and is a master at setting up his teammates and giving them the best the opportunity to score. On many nights Jimmy Butler would be the second go-to player simply because Chris Paul is a pass first guard.

Chris Paul is entering the golden age of his career, and the less he has to carry in the regular season, the better it is for him and the Rockets.

If Harden has a night where he just cannot get the ball through the hoop (as rare as it is), the easier it will be for Houston to just go to Butler, and have him carry the load.

If both players have an off night, the Rockets can then go to Chris Paul and he can be in charge of orchestrating the offense.

Similar to Golden State, it will be nearly impossible for all three to have an off night at the same time, and in the event that somehow does occur, they still have a future Hall of Famer who made a career at being an elite scorer who they can go to.

But how would this team match up against the Warriors?

The Rockets would be more versatile than last year’s team and would be even better equipped to switching everything on defense.

Assuming the Rockets go with Anthony as a starter, the Warriors would likely try to target him the most on defense, and while there will be a lot of times when Anthony will struggle in trying to guard Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant off the switches, it’s not like anyone else would be able to lock them down regardless.

Defense in the NBA is tricky. The players are too good to be stopped by one person, it takes an entire team effort just to slow down the most elite players in the league.

The reason many fans are reluctant to include P.J Tucker in a trade, is because he is the heart and soul of the Rockets defense, but Jimmy Butler can fill that role.

Related Story. Mike D’Antoni calls P.J. Tucker ‘one of the best players in the league’

The reason he became frustrated in Minnesota was because Butler felt that Karl Anthony-Towns and Andrew Wiggins were not willing to do enough to win, the extra work, the extra sacrifices.

That would not be a problem in Houston where the goal is to win now. Jimmy Butler’s fire to want his teammates to do more, is already the mindset for the Rockets. Jimmy Butler is more than capable of filling the defensive role that Tucker currently holds.

On the offensive side of the ball is where the Rockets would be vastly improved from last season if a trade for Butler is made.

In an eventual match up against the Golden State Warriors, a Jimmy Butler-Rockets team would have no player in which the Warriors players can sag off and help to guard James Harden or Chris Paul.

A Jimmy Butler-Rockets team means no rest for Stephen Curry on defense. It does not matter who he gets switched on or matched up against, because Chris Paul, James Harden, Jimmy Butler, Carmelo Anthony, or even Clint Capela are all capable of exploiting him on defense. As the Rockets showed in the Conference Finals, when they see an offensive mismatch, they will attack that match up for as long as they can.

The more Curry and Durant have to work on defense, the more tired they will be on offense, and the more leverage the Rockets will have against Golden State.

As for the loss of Gordon, the Rockets would need Brandon Knight and Gerald Green to step up and score more. Knight has struggled a lot with injuries recently, but when he’s healthy, he can fill it up from long range and average double figure scoring.

Ultimately, however, this trade scenario is still relatively a long shot. Minnesota’s asking price for Butler has been reportedly very high, but if there is any general manager that can pull this off, it is Daryl Morey.

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One leverage point the Houston Rockets have over anyone else is that they do have the best player out of all the offers being reported. Eric Gordon has been nothing short of spectacular in his time with the Rockets. He has proven that he can still create baskets at will and drain 3-point shots at a high rate, a skill that Minnesota desperately needs.

If the Timberwolves want the best player that can help them make the playoffs now, Eric Gordon is their guy.

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