With a huge standing ovation and crowd roaring with excitement, Caron Butler was welcomed into the Oklahoma City Thunder family. While his first possession was not ideal – a fumbled kickout from a driving Kevin Durant – it was a welcome that he will not soon forget.
The Oklahoma City Thunder are a franchise that is more like a family than a sporting team. They don’t make moves “just because” and everything is strategic in nature and never sacrifices their culture or core ideals. With that in mind and the resounding welcome in Loud City he received, Caron Butler can be pretty comfortable that he made the right decision and after one game and a very small sample size, the Thunder can be certain they have pursued the right piece to the puzzle.
Butler logged 26 minutes against the hapless Philadelphia 76ers and while his numbers weren’t gaudy, it was the way that he played the game that will have not only endeared himself to the team and the coaching staff, but also the fans. 2pts, 5rebs, 1ast, 1stl, 1blk. Hardly earth shattering, but for Thunder fans who watched the game, they would know that numbers aren’t everything. Butler looked lost on a number of occasions, but that is to be expected in his first game for a new team and new coach, not to mention he hadn’t played basketball in over a fortnight, but he played the right style of basketball. He moved the ball when he needed to, looked comfortably taking his four shots and didn’t force anything.
This is what the Oklahoma City Thunder needed out of their new recruit – smart, veteran play, solid defense and knocking down the right shots.
Wearing the number 2 jersey that used to be Thabo Sefolosha’s. Butler looked right at home. He quickly established some chemistry with the second unit, especially a couple of nice pick and roll plays with Nick Collison and his energy and support of teammates like Hasheem Thabeet after made baskets was a joy to watch. Caron Butler seemed happy to be out there and the Thunder were happy to have him.
Over the course of the next 20 odd games, Butler is going to experience some close games, blowouts, different rotations and minutes as the Thunder work to get him up to speed. Thankfully for OKC, Butler has a very high basketball IQ and a work ethic to match. Come the playoffs, Butler will be an integral part of the team and the Thunder know that. For now though, Butler and the Thunder are just happy to be winning.