We've talked a lot this season about Rasual Butler's hot shooting, but the thing that's surprised us more than his shooting is the unshakable confidence he's been playing with this season.
Usually, when players go through what Rasual Butler's gone through, struggling for a few years to find a role in the NBA, they return humbled by their brush with NBA irrelevance. They figure out how to stay in their lane and they excel in what they do well. That hasn't been the case with Butler. He's playing like a man who stopped caring what everyone else thinks, and it's been amazing to watch him ignore what everyone expects a role player to do at his age, and succeed in spite of everyone's expectations.
No play captures Butler's defiant approach to basketball this season better than one we saw on Friday night. Butler catches the ball at the elbow off the curl and fakes the jumper at the free throw line. As he completes his pump fake, he's dealing with this coverage from the Thunder:
Butler is boxed in on all sides here. Reggie Jackson and Kevin Durant have him sealed up at the free throw line, and Steven Adams and Serge Ibaka are waiting at the rim. Throwing up a forced shot would be understandable. Trying to pass the ball out to someone would have been perfectly appropriate. Yet, for some reason, with this coverage, Rasual Butler decides the best course of action is to try to cram it on Serge Ibaka's head.
Somehow, it worked, and we're all better for getting to see this happen.