Luka Doncic staked his claim to be considered the best player left in the playoffs by masterfully wiping the floor with the Phoenix Suns' elite defense in two straight games to move on to his first Western Conference Finals. A star young player going deeper into the playoffs than he ever has before is prime fodder for the content machine, and Skip Bayless obliged today.
On Undisputed, Bayless was talking to Shannon Sharpe and the conversation found its way to the Miami Heat and Jimmy Butler. Bayless proclaimed that he'd take Butler over Doncic to win a playoff series right now and said the Heat star is a better all-around player and a certified winner.
Technically, Bayless is correct to say that Butler is a better all-around player because he's an elite defender and a good scorer while Doncic is a passable defender and an elite scorer. But Doncic's offensive contributions are so much greater than Butler's that he is still the better player, even if he doesn't dominate both sides of the ball. And, of course, nobody can really say if Butler is a better winner or not. He has won more than Doncic, mostly due to the fact that he is nearly a decade older than the Slovenian superstar. But as a consequence, he's also failed far more often. We won't get into that age-old argument.
I will say that Butler is playing so well this postseason that he makes a Bayless take sound reasonable. In a vacuum, anybody and everybody will take Doncic's historic production on offense over Butler's two-way skills. But Butler is averaging 28.7 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 5.4 assists this postseason while playing lockdown defense on the other side of the court. Doncic is averaging a smidge more points, coming in at 31.5 per game, with 10.1 rebounds and 6.6 assists per contest. Clearly better, but the gap is much smaller than you'd think. Then you add in Butler's defensive proficiency and there is a legitimate argument to be made that this version of Butler is more valuable than this version of Doncic.
The issue that arises is we know Doncic can keep this up. These numbers are on par with what he usually does. Butler is shooting out of his mind and a regression to the mean is very possible. We'll find out over the next week who will rise to the occasion.