Butler sails in to their first season in the rugged Atlantic 10, and now will be doing so without starting guard Chrisawn Hopkins, who was dismissed from the program on Wednesday.
Hopkins averaged 9.1 points per game last year, which was good for 3rd on the team, this despite only playing 23 minutes a game. He was also their player most able to create his own shot.
So how concerned should fans be?
First, Butler was a decent team last year, finishing 11-7 in the Horizon. Their defense was stout, and was likely the 2nd best in Brad Stevens tenure behind his 2010 team. But offensively they were awful. In Stevens' first four years the worst Butler ever ranked in offensive efficiency was 61st (2009). Last year? 213th.
The problem was that Butler was one of the worst 3-point shooting teams in the nation (341st out of 345), and though they were good at getting to the line (66th) they completely tossed this advantage out the window by only making 64.7% of their freebies (302nd).
So, back to Hopkins. Chrishawn, to put it mildly, liked to put up shots. When he was on the floor he took 27.2% of Butler's shots, which is Shelvin Mack country. The difference is that Mack was efficient with his shots, while Hopkins was not. For some bizarre reason 40% of Hopkins attempts were from beyond the arc, yet he made fewer than 28% of them. Inside the arc he was a 43% shooter, which at least was better than embarrassing. He was a solid free throw shooter (79%) but he didn't get there very often.
The damage of losing Hopkins comes down to his replacement. Chase Stigall will likely earn some of the minutes, and while Stigall can play defense, he's also a highly inefficient player himself. Freshman Kellen Dunham is another option – and for Butler fans, probably the most attractive one. He's long, and he can shoot. There's also Jackson Aldridge, but he was horribly turnover prone as a freshman.
Is losing Hopkins a big deal? It's not ideal, but no. With Rotnei Clark coming in, Butler will have a solid three options on the offensive end – Andrew Smith's post presence, Khyle Marshall's athleticism, and the 3-point marksmanship of Clark. Whatever they get from Dunham will be a bonus. They key is that the three good options will no longer have to share the court with someone who insisted on being high volume. Yes, they lose a play-maker, but what sort of plays was he making?