Jimmy Butler is going to be a jolt to the Sixers system. After an uninspiring first 14 games at 8-6 (with the net rating of -0.9, which would suggest a .500 team) Philadelphia is trading for Butler, a top 10 (or top 12, at worst) NBA player. Butler can knock down threes, attack the rim, moves the ball, and is an elite on-ball defender. More importantly, he’s done all of it with hustle and grit, things the Sixers have lacked this season.
However, there are questions. Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons both are used to having the ball in their hands, and so does Butler, but NBA rules still state only one ball can be used at a time. Can the Sixers players learn to sacrifice for the greater good, as the Warriors’ stars have done? Also, is there enough shooting and depth on the Sixers for them to truly be a threat to Boston/Toronto/Milwaukee?
Embiid and Simmons say yes, as they told Serena Winters of NBC Sports Philadelphia.
“Between me, Jo and Jimmy,” Simmons said, “we all have that similar mindset of we hate losing, that pisses us off and we want to win.”
“I think he’s going to help us a lot offensively and especially defensively,” Embiid said. “He’s one of the best defensive players in the league. I’m excited to see where he takes us, and how much better we are going to look….
“With the type of system we play, we like to move the ball,” Embiid said. “The ball goes through everybody’s hands, so I don’t think bringing someone else will take the ball out of my hands or Ben’s hands. We are going to figure it out. I’m sure he’s coming in here willing to fit in.”
“We add another All-Star to the team, definitely,” Simmons said. “A guy like him coming in that can score the ball, veteran leadership, experience, I think he’s going to fit right in.”
Philadelphia believes they have vaulted themselves back up to contender status with this move. After a summer of openly trying to land another superstar and failing, then looking at a free agency market that may not see superstars on the move the way some predicted (Kyrie Irving says he’s staying in Boston, Klay Thompson isn’t expected to leave Golden State, etc…), Sixers ownership and management decided to move all-in now. That’s always a risk, you never know for sure what the next card to be turned over will be, but for the Sixers it’s was the right move.
Embiid and Simmons are excited and believe it will work, and that’s a big first step.