During the offseason, John Hollinger's Caron Butler forecast argued that "Although his trend line says the jumper is becoming more of a weapon each year, I'm not sure Butler can keep stroking those 20 footers at quite the clip he did last season." I'm not sure I understand why Hollinger chose to go against his own projections formula, which saw Butler's field goal percentage going up, but as you can see above, Hollinger was dead wrong. Butler's shot's become more accurate and his true shooting percentage has skyrocketed to above Kobe Bryant or LeBron James.
It's tempting, in a narrative sense, to attribute Butler's emergence to the Gilbert Arenas injury that it's done a lot to offset. The reality, though, seems to be simply that Butler's learned to shoot from beyond the three point arc. As you can see, his percentage on the longball was formerly in the "he really can't hit that shot" range and now he's a good three point shooter. The move from average 1.1 treys per game and making 25 percent of them, to hitting 47 percent of 2.5 per game is worth substantial scoring efficiency on its own terms. And, of course, the ability to hit that shot opens up other aspects of your offensive game.
In my view, he's probably playing better this season than Arenas was last year, but even with Gilbert injured he's still the clear focal point of the Wizards' marketing and the branding inside the Verizon Center.
Matthew Yglesias is a former writer and editor at The Atlantic.